Man, 14 when he fathered boy, must pay support
Court: Welfare of their child, not older woman's behavior, the issue.
Macomb Daily, Michigan, U.S.A., By Chad Halcom, Staff Writer, February 21, 2004
A man who claims he was seduced and exploited in his early teens by an older, married woman must pay child support to the state for the illegitimate son he gave her, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided in a precedent-setting Macomb County case this week.
************, now 29, was allegedly 14 years old when lured into sexual relations in with Laura Michelle Evelyn, then 21. Four years ago, she and her husband, David Evelyn, got divorced in New York. Testing determined that the child she bore in 1989 wasn't David's.
Now, an appeals court ruling says ********** must pay child support, even though he was under age and claims he didn't consent to sex.
"(C)hild support is to provide for the needs of the child; it is awarded without regard to the fault of either of the parents," a majority of the three-judge panel on the case ruled. "The (lower) court therefore erred by refusing to order child support because (**********) was technically the victim of an uncharged act of criminal sexual conduct."
********** contended in court, and Macomb County Chief Circuit Judge Peter J. Maceroni agreed, that if ********** is the father, then the son was conceived by a criminal act on Evelyn's part and the mother should not be allowed to profit from it. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court ruling, however, and said child support must be decided by the interests of the child and not the parents.
"At stake here is not the mother profiting from criminal wrongdoing; what's at stake here is the child, who is entitled to an appropriately supported upbringing regardless of how he was conceived," Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said.
Marlinga's office brought the action on behalf of the Family Independence Agency, which is trying to collect child support from **********. The prosecutor's office and FIA regularly work together on cases where the state makes welfare payments to a family with dependent children and then seeks reimbursement payments from the non-resident parent; or in cases where one state petitions another to help establish paternity of a biological parent and then collect support across state lines.
In this case, the Evelyns divorced in Macomb County in 2000 and a blood test arising from the divorce case determined that David Evelyn, Laura's husband, was not the child's father. Authorities tracked down ********** in New York, who appeared in court proceedings there in 2001 and conceded that he is the boy's father.
Neither ********** nor the Evelyns could be reached for comment Friday. An assistant prosecutor in Marlinga's office who handled the case declined to comment about it.
Officials and records indicate the sexual relations between ********** and Mrs. Evelyn, now 36, were not widely known until the Evelyns' divorce case over a decade later, and that ********** was originally unaware of the child. At the time, the statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors was six years or until the child turns 21, whichever comes later, so by the time of the divorce it was too late to prosecute for the alleged crime.
********** contends in court records that Mrs. Evelyn "plied him with alcohol and the promise of sex with an older woman to induce him" into the illicit act, and that he was not a willing participant; however, the sex would still have been a crime regardless of consent since ********** was underage. The appeals court determined that consent was also irrelevant when it comes to his child support responsibilities.
A Macomb County judge determined that the child was born out of wedlock, but that the law doesn't entitle Evelyn to child support or require the judge to give it to her. The judge then applied "equitable principles" - basically a sense of fairness and justice rather than the letter of the law to determine that ********** shouldn't be held liable for child support.
With the reversal Friday, the case now returns to Maceroni's court to determine an appropriate amount that Shire must pay in child support.
The Macomb Daily 2004
The Macomb Daily is based in Macomb County, Michigan, USA, located immediately north of Detroit.