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Topeka sperm donor: case is politically motivated

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Topeka sperm donor says a state effort to force him to pay child support for a child conceived through artificial insemination by a lesbian couple is a politically motivated act that has already cost him thousands of dollars.

William Marotta, 46, said he is "a little scared about where this is going to go, primarily for financial reasons," The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Monday (http://bit.ly/132b7Ji ).

When he donated sperm to Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner in 2009, Marotta relinquished all parental rights, including financial responsibility to the child. When Bauer and Schreiner filed for state assistance this year, the state demanded the donor's name so it could collect child support for the now 3-year-old girl. Bauer and Schreiner broke up in 2010 but co-parent their eight children, who range in age from 3 months to 25 years.

"In the long run, I think this will be a good thing, but I'm the one getting squashed," Marotta 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."

Though his attorneys, Benoit Swinnen and Hannah Schroller, are charging him reduced rates, Marotta said he expects the legal fees to eventually be more than he can afford. He is predominantly a mechanic but said he is currently working in a different field. He and his wife, Kimberly, have no biological children but care for foster children.

"I've already paid more than 10 percent of my yearly salary, and I don't know many folks who are willing to give up more than 10 percent of their yearly income," he said.

The state contends the agreement between Marotta and the women is not valid because Kansas law requires a licensed physician to perform artificial insemination.

"Speaking generally, all individuals who apply for taxpayer-funded benefits through DCF are asked to cooperate with child support enforcement efforts," Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said in a statement. "If a sperm donor makes his contribution through a licensed physician and a child is conceived, the donor is held harmless under state statue. In cases where the parties do not go through a physician or a clinic, there remains the question of who actually is the father of a child or children.

"DCF is required by statute to establish paternity and then pursue child support from the non-custodial parent," she wrote.

A hearing on a motion by Marotta's attorneys to dismiss the case is scheduled for Jan. 8 in Shawnee County District Court.

Bauer and Schreiner have said they fully support Marotta's efforts to fight the state's request. When Bauer was diagnosed in March with what she calls "a significant illness" that prevents her from working, Schreiner sought health insurance for their daughter from the state. The DCF told Schreiner if she didn't provide the sperm donor's name, it would deny any health benefits because she was withholding information.

Marotta said Monday he doesn't resent Schreiner for giving the state his name.

"I resent the fact that Jennifer was pressured into doing that in the first place," he said. "That was wrong -- wrong by the state."

Marotta said he is convinced the state's effort is politically motivated.

"It's my understanding that (Bauer) told the department of child services right off the bat, 'I will be financially responsible for this' and they in essence told her, 'No, get lost. You're not part of this,"' he said. "And when somebody's willing to say 'Hold it a minute, I'm the one who's responsible for this' and another agency says 'No, get lost,' whether it's bureaucratic politics or something more than that -- it's a Republican state, yeah, I think it's politics."

Swinnen said if administrative hearing officer Lori Yockers chooses not to dismiss the case, it would go to the discovery phase and his office would file a motion seeking summary judgment in Marotta's favor.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com