Well, this story is all sorts of fucked up. When Nick Olivas was 14 years old, he had sex with a 20-year-old woman, though it’s essential to note that Olivas was too young to consent to sex with an adult, and thus this sexual relationship was statutory rape. Olivas said he didn’t realize at the time that he was being taken advantage and that he could press charges. Flash forward eight years, and Olivas discovered that this woman had his child and that the state of Arizona had apparently decided he owed her $15,000 in back child support payments.
According to USA Today:
“It was a shock,” he said. “I was living my life and enjoying being young. To find out you have a 6-year-old? It’s unexplainable. It freaked me out.”
He said he panicked, ignored the legal documents and never got the required paternity test. The state eventually tracked him down.
Olivas said he now owes about $15,000 in back child support and medical bills going back to the child’s birth, plus 10 percent interest. The state seized money from his bank account and is now garnisheeing his wages at $380 a month.
Excuse me, WHAT? Olivas says he wants to be a part of his daughter’s life and is willing to pay child support going forward, but balks at paying it retroactively, with good reason. “Anything I do as an adult, I should be responsible for,” he said. “But as a teenager? I don’t think so.”
It’s admirable that Olivas is willing to pay child support going forward, but that the state is requiring him to pay it at all, let alone pay it retroactively for a child he didn’t know existed, conceived via an illegal relationship in which he was the victim, is so wrong. (And for the record, no feminist I know would argue any differently.) But apparently, this is not unheard of. In rare cases, courts have ruled that statutory rape victims can be held responsible for child support because the support is going to the child and not the rapist. But what about the fact that Olivas was a child himself when his daughter was conceived, that he was incapable of giving consent to the sex that created her, and that the only adult in the situation — the statutory rapist — chose to carry the pregnancy to term and keep it a secret from Olivas? It’s ridiculous to me that he is being held liable at all.
Olivas says he is trying to fight some of the back child support costs, but that he can’t afford a lawyer. In the meantime, he’s hoping to finally get to meet his daughter. “I lost my mom at a young age. I know what it’s like to only have one parent,” he told USA Today. “I can’t leave her out there. She deserves a dad.”
[Photo: Charlie Leight/The Republic]