A case involving a Topeka sperm donor is drawing national attention after first being reported Friday by The Topeka Capital-Journal.
NBCNews, Fox News and the Huffington Post had articles on their websites Monday about the state’s effort to have William Marotta, whose sperm donation enabled a lesbian couple to have a child, be declared the father of the 3-year-old girl so he can be forced to pay child support.
Benoit Swinnen, whose Topeka law firm of Swinnen & Associates represents Marotta, said administrative hearing officer Lori Yockers is scheduled to hear its motion to have the case dismissed on Jan. 8 in Shawnee County District Court. Should Yockers not dismiss the case, Swinnen said, his firm would file a motion seeking a summary judgement in Marotta’s favor.
Swinnen said he hadn’t anticipated the degree of national attention the case would receive after the story was broken Friday at CJOnline.
Articles about the case have been posted on dozens of news websites, including:
■ An article posted Sunday on the NBCNews site that had drawn more than 600 comments from readers by late Monday morning. The article is at http://nbcnews.to/Z2cUig.
■ An article posted Sunday on the Huffington Post site that had drawn more than 400 reader comments. The article is at http://huff.to/WTP6Jn.
■ An article posted Monday on the Daily Mail, a British news web site. The article is at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255241/Sperm-donor-ordered-pay-....
■ An article posted Monday on the Fox News site, which indicated Marotta said in an exclusive interview with Fox News that he might never have agreed to provide sperm to Angela Bauer and her former partner, Jennifer Schreiner, had he known the legal morass that awaited him after responding to the women’s Craigslist ad seeking a donor in March 2009. The article is at http://fxn.ws/VmK86m.
The Capital-Journal continues to seek an interview with Marotta, 46, who signed a contract in March 2009 with Bauer and Schreiner waiving his parental rights and responsibilities. The Kansas Department for Children and Families on Oct. 3 filed a petition seeking a ruling that Marotta is the father of Schreiner’s child and owes a duty to support her.
The petition said the department provided cash assistance totaling $189 for the girl for July through September 2012 and had paid medical expenses totaling $5,884.96.
Schreiner and Bauer sought financial assistance from the state after Bauer stopped working due to illness and could not financially support Schreiner and eight children they co-parent.
Because Schreiner is the 3-year-old’s sole parent under Kansas law, which does not recognize same-sex unions, the state can’t seek child support from Bauer. Schreiner and Bauer are no longer a couple.
The Fox News article quoted Marotta as saying he was preparing for a lengthy legal fight that had already cost him several thousand dollars.
“In the long run, I think this will be a good thing, but I’m the one getting squashed,” he said. “I can’t even believe it’s gone this far at this point and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”
Marotta suggested to Fox News that he might be a victim of bias against same-sex parenting.
The Huffington Post article about the case was accompanied by a photograph of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
The article noted that Brownback oversees the department for Families and Children and opposes gay marriage.
It told of how Topeka City Councilman Chad Manspeaker, a Democrat, on Saturday evening posted on Twitter a photo of an anti-gay sign in front of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church and wrote, “Right now Kansas’ Department of Children and Families looks a lot like this.”
Westboro Baptist members, many of them the children and grandchildren of the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., have conducted anti-homosexual picketing in Topeka and other cities since 1991. Brownback recently denounced the church’s picketing.
Dozen of reader comments posted beneath the Huffington Post article were disparaging of Kansas.
The NBCNews article about Marotta’s case indicated sperm bank donors are typically protected by state parent shielding laws. It said courts have made differing rulings in less straight-forward cases in Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Washington state and Texas regarding whether sperm donors can be forced to pay child support.
Swinnen said the sperm donation contract used in Marotta’s case had been found online and is consistent with what’s generally available on California websites.
Swinnen’s law office also represented Topekan Daryl Hendrix in “In Re K.M.H.,” a 2007 case in which the Kansas Supreme Court denied parental rights to Hendrix, who sought them after providing a sperm donation.