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Court says Texas sperm donor owes no child support for woman’s kids

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POSTED April 11, 2012 12:43 a.m.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — For four years, a North Texas bodybuilder and former police officer has waged a court battle in California against a woman who sued him for support of children born to her from sperm he donated.

Only recently did an appeals court in California overturn a lower-court ruling that held 47-year-old national bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman, of Arlington, responsible for supporting twins born from his donated sperm, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://bit.ly/HviInJ ) reported.

But after an April 2008 court order directed him to pay child support, Coleman paid thousands of dollars in child support until the March 19 ruling by California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles overturned that order.

The attorney for the woman identified in the lawsuit only as “Jo.D.” didn’t return a telephone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

According to the court ruling, Coleman and the woman met in 1991 at the Arlington apartment complex where they both lived. They had a sexual relationship but did not marry. The woman moved to California in 2001, and in 2006 Coleman provided sperm for the woman’s in vitro fertilization.

In June 2007, the woman gave birth to triplets. Coleman was listed on their birth certificates as their father, and he signed a declaration of paternity. One of the infants died the following March.

Coleman married another woman in December 2007. In April 2008, Coleman was sued for child support and ordered to pay child support while the suit was pending.

“I was totally blown away,” he told the Star-Telegram. “I was already married and had moved on with my life.”

After a state judge in Los Angeles made the child-support order final in October 2010, Coleman appealed.

“The appeals court essentially recognized the statute in California that allows women to receive sperm from a medical facility ... and not to have to worry about the specter of the donor coming back and filing a paternity action,” said Los Angeles lawyer Peter Lauzon, Coleman’s attorney.

Texas law is similar, Lauren Duffer, a lawyer specializing in reproductive technology law, told the Star-Telegram.

“We find lots of situations where people don’t understand what they are doing,” she said.

As a competitive bodybuilder, Coleman said, he is asked often to donate sperm. “I learned a valuable and easy lesson: Never donate sperm,” he said.

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