(Save The 1) It was right before the start of my junior year. I was a normal 16-year-old teenager. Over the summer, my parents renewed their vows which was like a second wedding for them. I enjoyed going to the lake where my uncle lived. I did things with my friends, enjoyed my close-knit family, and was looking forward to starting another school year. Dating wasn’t an interest for me since I was so focused on friends, family and studies. All of that changed when I was targeted and raped by a convicted sex offender.
In October 2016, I was spending the night at a house behind me. We’ve known this family for about 8 years. My friend was a year older than me. Her older sister Paige, age 25, offered to take us for a ride and meet up with her family. As soon as we got to her family’s house, there were a couple of older men there, and I was very uncomfortable — pleading with her three times for her to take us home.
I’d prefer not to go into details of that horrific night, but it resulted in this 32 year old man, Shane R. Rodgers, raping me. After that, I was never the same. My parents knew something was wrong. I didn’t want to go school. I didn’t want to get out of bed or go anywhere. I couldn’t sleep without my light on and I never wanted to be alone. Suffering with fear and shame, I kept it all in.
I knew pregnancy was a possibility, but was relieved when I continued to have a regular cycle. However, about six months after the rape, I began to feel distinct movement in my abdomen. So a friend and I went to the dollar store and got a pregnancy test, which showed up positive. I was a virgin when I was raped and never had relations since, so I knew right away what this meant. I went to the 25-year-old neighbor who had driven me to the house that night, and told her I was pregnant. Paige took me to a clinic which confirmed my pregnancy.
That night, I told my mom, but Paige had convinced me to say it was a stranger, because she was afraid of getting into trouble herself. I was naive and didn’t know she had set me up all along — basically, trafficking me to her cousin (with whom she was having sex) who was a convicted child molester who’d already gone to prison with a plea for attempting to rape an 11-year-old girl. I thought she was trying to protect me, while all along I was just a simple pawn in her sick, twisted game.
My mom was shocked, but showed me love and support. We told my dad when he got home from work the next morning, and I broke down and ended up telling him everything. My dad was of course furious, and we called the police. The rapist was arrested that same evening, and I’m glad to say, he’s been in jail ever since.
In fact, he was just sentenced by Judge Margaret Noe in Lenawee County with a plea deal for 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct, and will be serving out the 6 year remainder of his prior sentence, plus another 5 to 10 years for raping me. I never thought I’d share my difficult story publicly, but after seeing comments under the news coverage of his sentencing, I feel I need to speak up and not be silent any longer. This man admitted in court as to what he did to me — he admitted it wasn’t consensual and that I was lured to the home by my neighbor. I went through hell and nobody but myself will ever understand. When I realized that people were defending a man who could do something so awful and continue on without a care, I was so hurt, but now I have found my voice.
No girl ever deserves to be raped. It is never her fault. Clearly this man has been a predator for a long time, and I’m only now learning that Paige not only trafficked me, but many other girls as well.
As far as my daughter, she is everything to me, and she is the one who is getting me through the trauma of the rape. I’ve been homeschooling for my senior year. I won’t be going to prom. I won’t be graduating with all of my peers. We moved away because I was tormented by my neighbors after going to the police. My whole life has changed, yet, my child is not to be blame — just like Judge Noe pointed out in Court at his sentencing when she said, “The child bears none of the ugliness of what he did.” She showed a lot of compassion for me and my daughter, and I was really touched when I heard what all this good judge had to say.
My baby girl is my hero. If it hadn’t been for her, this child molester would still be free raping other girls. And I will do anything to protect my daughter. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her. And I wouldn’t be getting justice without her.
I was horrified last fall when I saw that a judge in Sanilac County, Michigan gave joint legal custody and parenting time to another two-time convicted child molester, and I was immediately afraid a judge could do the same once my rapist gets out of prison. His family was already trying to send me friend requests on social media, and I needed to be sure my child would forever be safe from all of them.
So my mom contacted the attorney who had represented the mother in Sanilac County and ultimately got her and her child protected from the rapist. Rebecca Kiessling agreed to handle my case for free as well, and explained the law that was passed in the summer of 2016 which was intended to protect women like me who become pregnant by rape.
Fortunately, at his sentencing in Lenawee County, Shane Rodgers signed the two key court papers we needed him to sign — the judgment of paternity and the order revoking paternity (as required by the Michigan Rape Survivor Child Custody Act.) However, I just found out that Judge Theresa Brennan in Livingston County won’t just sign the consent order, but is requiring my attorney to file a motion on it. I’m so scared. I thought it would be simple if he was agreeing to the termination of his parental rights. I just want this part over with so I can have peace of mind that whatever happens in the future — whether it’s him getting out of prison, with regards to his family, or if something were to happen to me, then I could to know my child will be safe and protected by the courts.
Some people think I made the wrong decision in keeping my daughter. Some even tried to convince me to give her up for adoption. It was a tough decision for a teenager to make, but my daughter has been the shining light that came out of the most awful situation.
When I first held my child in my arms, nothing could ever compare to that moment. I knew that she was innocent in all of this. I’ll never forget that she helped me get justice for the both of us. I’m still healing to this day, I still have trouble coping with what happened to me, and I know it will be with me for the rest of my life, as well as my daughter’s. I never want someone to go through what I went through, and I want to encourage anyone who has: yes, it may be hard, but please don’t be afraid to ask for help or speak out. Don’t be ashamed of what happened to you as I was. You had no control. And I promise, one day, it will get better.
I really want to thank the Michigan legislators who passed that law so the rapist won’t have any part of my child. If you ever wonder what kind of difference you can make, you are making a real difference in my life and the life of my beautiful daughter!
BIO: “Malia” is a 17 year old homeschool student about to graduate and is the mother of one. She’s now a pro-life blogger for Save The 1, and wants to help other rape survivors.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at Save The 1 and is reprinted here with permission.