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. She is now 32
An Alabama woman who 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
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.
‘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,’ she told The Washington Post last month.
‘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.
Alabama’s state senate passed a bill last month which bans abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. Stallings says she supports it but that a new law must be introduced to protect rape victims later, after they have given birth to their rapists’ children, to stop them from coming for custody
After running away with her sons, she spent time living in The Ronald McDonald House where she says she felt most safe.
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.
The woman 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.