JANUARY 31, 2008

Michael Chaffer, 40, is accused of impregnating his girlfriend's 10-year-old daughter.
Michael Chaffer, 40, is accused of impregnating his girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter.

The baby’s birth at University Hospital on Nov. 4 was routine.

What wasn’t routine was the fact that the infant’s mother was just 10 at the time, impregnated by her mother’s boyfriend.

Now, social workers are trying to figure out how to unravel the mess involving one of the youngest children ever to give birth in Greater Cincinnati.

Prosecutors were in court Wednesday to discuss what to do with both children, the newborn and her now 11-year-old mom.

The court session in Hamilton County Dependency Court on Wednesday was primarily a status session on how the baby and young mother are doing.

At the same time, Lockland police were in Columbus talking to a convict whose DNA shows he’s the baby girl’s father.

Michael Chaffer, 40, is accused of impregnating his girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter, according to Hamilton County prosecutors.

The baby’s birth set off an investigation by the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services and stunned social workers because the baby’s mother is so young.

Update: Young mom a rape case

The baby has been taken from her mother and put in a foster home while the mother is now being taken care of by a relative. Her mother is not allowed to see the baby and can only see her daughter when supervised by social workers.

Lawyers jammed the courtroom Wednesday, representing the prosecutor’s office and three generations of the family.

Authorities became aware of the birth after the girl, now 11, delivered the baby at University Hospital. Hospital officials notified JFS because the mother was so young.

The girl and the infant were allowed to remain in the mother’s home while JFS investigated the case.

As JFS investigated, several relatives of the girl contacted the agency saying Chaffer sexually abused the girl for a “period of time.”

The girl’s mother was warned not to let any adult men in her Lockland home while caseworkers tried to track down the infant’s father.

Prosecutors say the girl’s mother ignored that order, and when a caseworker made a surprise visit to her Lockland home Jan. 4, they found Chaffer.

Two other men were eliminated as the baby’s father before Chaffer’s DNA was tested.

Paternity was not determined until Wednesday morning.

Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Slocum said Chaffer faces criminal charges for impregnating and sexually molesting a girl under the age of 13.

Lockland Police Chief James Toles said two officers were interviewing Chaffer on Wednesday in a Columbus prison, where he is serving a one-year sentence on an unrelated charge.

Sex with a child under 13 is considered statutory rape, a crime punishable with a life prison term.

The 11-year-old girl’s mother is also under investigation, Slocum said, for allowing her daughter to be abused.

Job and Family Services workers can’t remember a case in which a girl so young gave birth.

“Unfortunately, sexual abuse is pretty common in the cases we see,” said JFS Director Moira Weir. “But it is highly unusual and extremely sad to see a case where a 10-year-old becomes pregnant.

“This is an example of why everyone in the community needs to be extremely vigilant about watching for the signs of abuse and notifying us through our 241-KIDS hot line,” she added. “The sooner we can intervene, the sooner we can make sure the child is in a safe situation.”

Hamilton County prosecutors want a court designation that the 11-year-old girl was abused. They allege the 11-year-old’s mother failed to care for her by allowing Chaffer near her.

Prosecutors also want to take the infant away from the mother because the sixth-grade student is too young to care for the baby.

As she waited for the hearing to start, the child, who was wearing faded jeans and a T-shirt hoody with her hair tied into a ponytail, sat next to her mother. She chatted about school, music and Disney video games.

During the hearing, as prosecutors and attorneys discussed the case and the possibility that the 11-year-old could lose her baby, she wiped away tears with the palms of her hands.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Magistrate Charles Milazzo determined the girl could visit her baby at least twice a week.

But he said the 11-year-old girl’s mother may see her only if social workers can supervise the visits, and that she may not see the baby.

When the caseworker found Chaffer in the home Jan. 4 – a violation of JFS’ order that no men be in the home – they arrested him on a charge of obstruction of official business.

Court records show Chaffer slammed the door on the officer and refused to open it.

Chaffer pleaded guilty to that charge the next day, which violated his probation on an earlier drug charge. As a result he was sent to prison for one year.

JFS immediately took the 11-year-old girl and infant from the home.




JANUARY 31, 2008

Lockland police say they are finishing their investigation into the sexual molestation of a 10-year-old girl who got pregnant.

Once their work is complete – possibly as early next week – they will pass the case to Hamilton County prosecutors for charges, said Detective Tod Ober.

Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier, who heads the office’s criminal division, said there’s no rush to bring charges since the accused man, Michael Chaffer, is in prison on other charges.

DNA test results show the 40-year-old Lincoln Heights man is the father of the infant who was born to the child in November, according to Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Slocum.“If he’s the father, he’ll be indicted on rape,” Piepmeier said. “That’s all it takes.”

A rape charge carries a possible 10-year prison term.

Lisa Mills, a psychologist and the executive director of Harmony Garden, a Norwood-based non-profit organization that does research and education about girl’s health, called the situation “very sad.”

“It’s just a very unfortunate situation,” she said. “I know of girls who have been pregnant as young as 11 and 12, but not 10.

“That’s probably very rare, even nationwide,” Mills said.

Ober said he could not comment on the case since it is pending.

He did say his agency is investigating because the abuse was first alleged to have happened in his city. That turned out to be untrue. The victim and her family live in Lincoln Heights. But Lockland police kept the case since they had started the investigation.

Authorities first learned of the abuse after the girl gave birth Nov. 4 to a 4-pound baby girl at University Hospital. Officials there alerted the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, which opened an investigation immediately because of the girl’s young age.

Lockland police first looked at an adult man as their suspect, but DNA proved him innocent. They then turned their attention to a teenage boy, who was also was not the father, according to authorities.

Chaffer, the boyfriend of the girl’s 43-year-old mother, was matched to the infant through DNA on Wednesday, according to testimony in a juvenile court hearing about the living arrangements of the girl and the infant.

JFS caseworkers have removed both the baby and the girl from the home. The infant was placed in a foster home and the girl is living with a relative, according to court testimony.

That placement came after the 43-year-old woman violated a JFS order forbidding any adult men in the house. During a surprise visit Jan. 4, a caseworker found Chaffer there, according to court records.

Chaffer, who tried to prevent an officer from entering the home that day, was arrested on a probation violation that led to a one-year prison term on a prior drug charge. That sentence doesn’t expire until December.

Mills said although it’s unusual to see a pregnancy in a girl so young, early puberty makes it possible.

The average age of onset of menstruation in the United States is 12 years old, she said.

But she added this caveat: “More and more girls are starting their periods at a younger age. That can be because of many things, but one factor that stands out is the increase in obesity and weight in adolescents.”

The community must be watchful of its young girls, Mills said.

“Certainly parents and important adults in girls’ lives need to be protective,” she said. “We need to keep our eyes and ears open about young girls in the community and what’s going on with them, particularly with girls who start menstruation early.

“They are at increased risk of abuse because they look older and draw more attention,” Mills said. “Caregivers need to be protective and provide supervision.”


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