‘I’ve spent my whole life scared of my rapist, now I’m fighting him for custody of my children’
Alabama mother who was ‘raped by her uncle’, beginning in her pre-teen years onwards, is forced to let him see the two boys he fathered out of the attacks
Jessica Stallings, 32,from Birmingham, Alabama says she was raped by her uncle Lenion as a teenager
He started raping her, she says, when she was 12 and he was 19 in Alabama – at age 16, she gave birth to their first son and had another aged 19
She suffered a miscarriage when she was 14 and had a baby at 18 who died
Their family forced her to to marry her close blood relation but the marriage was annulled because the pair are related
Despite DNA proof of rape and incest, her attacker has never been brought to justice, Stallings says
Now, having left prison on drug charges, Lenion wants access to the boys
In the state of Alabama that does not strip rapists of their rights to see children they have fathered, Stallings has been told she must let him see them or face jail herself
Jessica Stallings, 32, from Alabama has publicly identified herself in interviews, revealing that she was abused by her uncle from the age of 12 onwards. She had four pregnancies, giving birth to two children, one still birth and a miscarriage at 14, all from rape by her uncle, Lenion Richard Barnett
Jessica Stallings has given repeated interviews where she agreed to discuss the case but not reveal her face. She says she was raped by her uncle from the age of 12 onwards and now has two children by him. Stallings who is from Alabama says she was raped by her uncle repeatedly as a teenager and forced to marry him after he fathered two children has spoken out to complain about a court forcing her to let him see the kids.
Jessica Stallings, 32, has publicly identified herself in interviews to describe being raped by her uncle Lenion Richard Barnett, who she says started ‘climbing into her bed’ when she was 12 and he was 19 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Over the next seven years, Barnett, who is her mother’s half-brother, impregnated her four times.
Her first pregnancy, when she was just 14, ended in miscarriage.
When she was 16, she gave birth to their son. At 18, she had another child who died. Aged 19, she had their last child, another boy.
Sickeningly, her family forced her to marry him but the marriage was annulled by a court which deemed it illegal because they are related. I’ve spent my entire life scared to death of my rapist, and now, I’m fighting him for custody of my children’ – Jessica Stallings said. Despite that and the fact that DNA testing proves he is the children’s father, the uncle has never been arrested or convicted of sex crimes.
Stallings ran away with the children.
But in 2015, Barnett was released from prison on unrelated drug charges.
He sought custody of the children upon his release.
To protect them, Stallings reported the rapes for the first time but a grand jury declined to prosecute and their reason for the decision is sealed along with the case files.
Now, he is demanding access to the two boys he fathered and he has been allowed to.
In an interview she gave The Washington Post last month, Stallings said ‘It’s sickening. I’ve spent my entire life scared to death of my rapist, and now, I’m fighting him for custody of my children’.
‘I had so much shame. I spent my entire childhood pregnant and terrified he was going to kill me,’ she added.
Stallings said she lost faith in the courts a ‘long time ago’ but that others ought to be aware of the worrying rules.
‘I’ve decided I won’t be silenced. I want other women in Alabama to know that their rapist may be in their lives — maybe forever — if this law isn’t passed.’ she said.
Because Alabama is one of the few states in the country which does not strip rapists of their rights, and because he has never been found guilty of raping her, the children’s mother has been told she must comply or face jail herself.
Over Christmas, she had to see him to let him spend three days with the boys.
Stallings said she has chosen to speak out in light of the state’s recently-passed abortion laws which makes it illegal for women to seek an abortion, even if they have been raped, unless it will endanger their life to carry the child.
She supports the law and does not regret having the two boys, saying that every life is equal despite how the child was conceived.
However, she believes states must enforce a law to protect rape victims once the babies are born, like hers.
‘If we’re going to ban abortions, we need laws in place for rape victims.
‘We’re not encouraging them to go through with their pregnancies if we’re telling them they have to be constantly bound to their rapist because they conceived,’ she said.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey [R], signs bill authorizing near total ban on abortion
Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey is seen signing the bill into law in May. She called the new law ‘a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious’. The bill signed by Governor Ivey is the most stringent abortion ban in the nation.
The law will make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison.
The law contains an exception for when the pregnancy creates a serious health risk for the woman, but not an exception for rape or incest.
There would be no punishment for the woman receiving the abortion, only for the abortion provider.