I stumbled upon this in the comments section of another blog, did a bit of searching, and found out it is true - in more than half of the American states, a rapist can sue for custody or visitation rights. 31 in fact.
In the wake of Todd Akin's comments about pregnancy rarely resulting from "legitimate rape," lawyer Shauna Prewitt highlights a reality for women in that situation in a column on CNN: In a majority of states, attackers are afforded the same rights as other fathers.
Prewitt, herself a rape survivor who gave birth to a daughter
as a result of her attack, explains that 31 states have no laws that
bar rapists from seeking custody or visitation rights. For Prewitt that
astounding fact is personal. Her rapist attempted to get custody of her
daughter, "but thankfully I got lucky and his visitation rights were
terminated," she said, according to a profile of her by The Am Law Daily's Brain Baxter.
She added: "I'm not sure I would have made the decision I did had I
known I might be tethered to my rapist for the rest of my life."