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Torrance Man Vows To Change Child Support Laws
Man Ordered To Support Child He Says Isn't His

NBC News, Los Angeles, U.S.A., March 2, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- A Torrance man ordered to pay support for a child he maintains is not his son said Tuesday he is a victim of paternity fraud and will not give up the fight to change the law.

Taron James, 34, says he has already given about $25,000 in child support to a woman for her 11-year-old son, a son he claims is not his.

The woman, whose name has not been made public, identified James as the baby's father in 1992, but the Gulf War veteran denied paternity.

The U.S. Navy vet admitted "a two-week fling" with the woman, but said it came a year before the child's birth.

"I don't know of any woman with that long a pregnancy," he said in a phone interview.

James tried to stop garnishment of his unemployment in a hearing before the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, but administrative Judge Michael Kurz said he could not overturn a decision by the Child Support Services Department.

No one at the CSSD who was familiar with James' case could be reached.

Although Kurz denied James' request, the judge in his decision wrote, "the evidence is overwhelming that (James) is a victim of fraud instigated by the woman ... This is one of the most unjust results a judge could render, but based on the laws on the books in California, there is no discretion to hold otherwise."

Even after producing a DNA test and notarized testimony from the woman clearing him, courts refused to set aside judgments obtained against him by the Los Angeles County District Attorney and the Child Support Services Department.

James said that unless there was a legislative change, he could end up paying support until the boy is 23.

"I'm so knocked down, it's not funny," James said, but added that he is helping lead the charge for an Assembly bill that could help reduce paternity fraud by making it easier for men to use DNA evidence to clear up cases against them.

"I will get the laws changed somehow," he said.

James said his name was placed on the child's birth certificate without his consent while he was on his tour of duty, and said he thinks the woman's motivation was his military benefits.

"Her father was in the Navy years ago, and she knew about the benefits," he said. "Here I am in the Gulf War, and if I was killed, she could make a claim on a $200,000 life insurance policy on the child's behalf."

He said the judgments have left him with almost nothing and that they have cost him $50,000, including his $24,000 military college stipend, which he said expired because he has spent the last three years fighting the paternity suit.

Copyright 2004 by NBC4.tv