Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Heir pushes for DNA use in his paternity suit

A scion of the Johnson & Johnson fortune wants a new law so he can limit a daughter's inheritance.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, by Robert Moran, Trenton Bureau, Dec. 28, 2003

TRENTON - J. Seward Johnson Jr. has a problem with the New Jersey Supreme Court: It won't let him prove whether a certain woman is his biological daughter.

For most ordinary folks, that's the end of the road. The state's highest court has spoken.

But Johnson, 73, is no ordinary person. He is a world-renowned sculptor. More important, his grandfather was a cofounder of Johnson & Johnson, the company that gave us the Band-Aid.

So Johnson - made wealthy in part from the sale of many Band-Aids - decided that he would try to get around the Supreme Court by asking state lawmakers to rewrite the law to expand the use of DNA in paternity cases.

The change could deny Jenia "Cookie" Johnson, who was born 42 years ago to Seward's then-wife, a slice of a Johnson family trust fund worth an estimated $350 million.

Since 2001, when the Supreme Court slammed the door on Seward Johnson and other relatives challenging Cookie's paternity, he has pushed to get favorable legislation to undo the high-court ruling.

Despite showering lawmakers and their party backers with $250,000 in campaign contributions, Johnson has been unsuccessful.

But he has not given up.

"I want that bill and I want it to help me, if it can," Johnson said in a recent telephone interview.

He also says that he is trying to help other victims of "paternity fraud" - mainly men forced to pay child support for children fathered by other men.

So Johnson's personal case has become intertwined with a growing movement that has, in fact, led to legislative changes in other states allowing the expanded use of DNA testing in paternity cases.

While the broader issue enjoys a fair amount of sympathy in the Statehouse - possibly enough to get a bill passed - it also has raised concerns.

Critics say that the various versions of the bill do not provide adequate safeguards to protect children in paternity disputes.

There also is debate about whether the legislation threatens millions of dollars in federal funding for New Jersey by making the law inconsistent with some federal requirements.

The overall issue is complex, and some wonder whether the Johnson case is unnecessarily complicating the matter.

The issue of paternity fraud is "being lost" in the Johnson controversy, said Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen (D., Union), sponsor of a paternity bill that could help Johnson.

Johnson says his fight is not about money. He said he has offered "millions" in settlement - if Cookie takes a DNA test. Johnson says she has refused.

He wants the legislation passed, he said, because "it would stop me from feeling buried alive."

Jenia Anne Josephine Johnson was born on Jan. 11, 1961, to Barbara E. Johnson, then Johnson's wife. Johnson says he soon suspected that another man was the child's father.

The marriage was troubled, to say the least.

In one notorious incident, detectives hired by Johnson one night sneaked into her house to catch her in a compromising position. His startled wife responded by shooting one of the detectives.

The Johnsons' divorce was finalized in 1965, decades before DNA testing was developed.

Johnson had questioned Cookie's paternity during the proceedings. Yet as part of the final settlement, he signed a formal acknowledgment of paternity. Without elaborating, he now says he was forced to make the acknowledgment to settle the divorce.

In the meantime, Johnson's father had created a charitable trust that would eventually benefit his four children and their families.

In 2001, the state Supreme Court ruled that Seward Johnson or his relatives could not challenge his previous acknowledgment of paternity to exclude Cookie from the trust. The high court said the original acknowledgment was final and that third parties - in this case, the relatives - could not challenge paternity.

Johnson today argues that the law is unfair and needs to be revised, specifically with a change that would allow DNA testing in any dispute over parentage with no time limit for when the challenge occurs.

After the Supreme Court ruling, Johnson hired a lobbyist and began pleading his case with state legislators.

Next came a barrage of campaign contributions.

In a nine-day stretch in the fall of 2001, Johnson gave a total of $70,000 to leadership committees representing Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and the General Assembly.

On the ninth day, a bill narrowly tailored to help Johnson was introduced. But controversy soon erupted over the bill, and it died.

Other bills, however, have since sprouted. Supporters say they address the larger issues of paternity fraud.

One of those advocates is Patrick McCarthy, 42, a delivery truck driver from Hillsborough, Somerset County, who said he sought legislative change after he was forced to continue paying support for a child even after he discovered that she was fathered by another man.

He began his efforts before Johnson emerged in the debate, but the two have since formed an alliance. Johnson has donated money to McCarthy's nonprofit New Jersey Citizens Against Paternity Fraud. Both Johnson and McCarthy said they were not sure whether the pending legislation would even help Johnson anyRead More ..Critics do not buy it.

The legislation is "specifically designed to screw one person, who is a constituent of mine," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D., Mercer), Johnson's chief opponent in the legislature.

Gusciora said he has known Jenia's mother, who now goes by Kristina, since they worked together in 1989 in a political campaign. "She contacted me [for help in the paternity dispute] and I said, 'No problem,' " Gusciora recalled.

Kristina Johnson, who lives in Princeton, declined to comment. Her daughter, who Gusciora said lives on a farm outside Princeton, did not respond to a request for comment.

Kristina has contributed $800 to Gusciora's campaign fund. Cookie's lawyer, former state Attorney General Robert Del Tufo, has given $1,000 to Gusciora and several thousands more to other lawmakers.

Those amounts pale in comparison with the $250,000 contributed to state politicians by Johnson and his current wife, Joyce.

Johnson said the contributions were not meant to buy votes, but to get lawmakers to "educate themselves" about the legislation.

There are only a few days remaining in the current legislative session. There had been some talk that a bill might move during the remaining lame-duck period, which ends in mid-January, but that appears unlikely. The legislation is expected to re-emerge next year.

Meanwhile, representatives for Johnson sent to legislators a copy of a book that accompanies a major exhibition of his sculptures at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. Each one is signed by Johnson.

In Gusciora's copy, Johnson wrote: "I wish you, despite all, a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for the new year."

Brainwashing Children - Divorce - Family Law

W5 TV Show on Parental Alienation

TV Show about Parental Alienation

W5 investigates: Children on the frontlines of divorce

November 7, 2009

The world of divorce is scary for any child. But when a divorce becomes especially toxic, children can become the target of an unrelenting crusade by one parent to destroy the child's relationship with the other. Experts call it parental alienation.

A Mother's Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation

A Kidnapped Mind

A Kidnapped Mind

What does Parental Alienation Syndrome mean? In my case, it meant losing a child. When Dash was 4 1/2 years old his father and I broke up. I dealt with the death of our marriage and moved on but Peter stayed angry, eventually turning it toward his own house, teaching our son, day by day, bit by bit, to reject me. Parental Alienation Syndrome typically means one parent's pathological hatred, the other's passivity and a child used as a weapon of war. When Dash's wonderful raw materials were taken and shaken and melted down, he was recast as a foot soldier in a war against me.

Parental Alienation

Divorced Parents Move, and Custody Gets Trickier

The New York Times, New York city, U.S.A. August 8, 2004

Not too long ago, Jacqueline Scott Sheid was a pretty typical Upper East Side mother. Divorced and with a young daughter, she had quickly remarried, borne a son, and interrupted her career to stay home with the children while her husband, Xavier Sheid, worked on Wall Street.

Early last year, Mr. Sheid lost his job and saw his only career opportunity in California. But Ms. Sheid's ex-husband, who shares joint legal custody of their daughter, refused to allow the girl to move away. So Ms. Sheid has spent much of the last year using JetBlue to shuttle between her son and husband on the West Coast and her daughter (and ex) on the East.

The New York court system, which she hoped would help her family to resolve the problem, has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in fees for court-appointed experts, she said, and has helped to prolong the process by objecting to her choice of lawyers.

The Globe and Mail

Judge rules father brainwashed son into hating mother

Globe and Mail
May 15, 2008

Toronto - A 13-year-old Ontario boy whose domineering father systematically brainwashed him into hating his mother can be flown against his will to a U.S. facility that deprograms children who suffer from parental alienation, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled.

Mr. Justice James Turnbull ordered the boy - identified only as LS - into the custody of his mother. He said that the boy urgently needs professional intervention to reverse the father's attempt to poison his mind toward his mother and, in all probability, to women in general.

TV Show Parental Alienation - The View - Alec Baldwin

The View - Parental Alienation - Alec Baldwin and Jill Egizii - Both Genders Can be Victims

Alec Baldwin talks about his experience with parental alienation. Alec ( 3rd from right) was accompanied by Jill Egizii ( 2nd from right) , president of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organisation (PAAO) and Mike McCormick, president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC).

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Landmark Ruling Grants Father Custody of Children

PA News (U.K.), July 3, 2004

A key court decision to grant a father custody of his daughters after the mother flouted contact orders for four years was today welcomed by campaigners.

Fathers 4 Justice said that the High Court ruling was a vital victory and called for more judges to take a similar stance when faced with resistant parents.

The comments come after Mrs Justice Bracewell transferred the residence of two young girls to their father because the mother persistently refused him contact, despite court orders.  Read More ..

National Post

Custody judges rule on vengeance

Courts criticized for recognizing 'parental alienation'

National Post
March 27, 2009

Toronto -- The scope of the courts' reach into family affairs has long been contentious, but a recent trend in Canada's legal system has brought a new controversy that has some onlookers praising judges and others condemning them for accepting what they call "voodoo science."

More than ever before, Canada's judges are recognizing that some children of divorced and warring parents are not simply living an unfortunate predicament, but rather are victims of child abuse and suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome.   Read More ..