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Russ Whitney' paternity suit by John T. Reed 1 In response to my request for readers to help me find out information about Russ Whitney, a reader told me he found the Lee County, Florida court clerk' Web site. When you type Russ Whitney' name into the search engine of that Web site, you find a bunch of civil and criminal actions involving the Whitney family. (They want the last name first and no punctuation. Just Type Whitney or Whitney Russell. Typing Russ Whitney or Russell Whitney or Russell A. Whitney or Whitney, Russell will not work.) One of the civil actions is a paternity/child-support suit by a woman against Russell A. Whitney. I suspect most people know what that means, but just in case anyone doesn"t, paternity suits allege that a man is the father of a child born out of wedlock. A paternity suit is indicated when the man who got the woman pregnant denies that he is the father. Child support is required of all biological or adoptive parents regardless of whether the child in question was born to a married couple or not. Case # 95-009059CA Case #95-009059CA was filed against Russell A. Whitney on November 29, 1995"”eleven days after Whitney' 40th birthday. In the list of cases involving Whitney, the case type is listed as "PATERNITY." Whitney was served the summons on December 5, 1995. You can read the court' chronology of the case by clicking on the case number. The woman was represented by attorney Rana Holz and Whitney was represented by attorney Stephen Leif Hegelmo. The plaintiff mother was an employee of Whitney' Fun Rentals and Whitney' seminar business. Her 4/25/96 financial affidavit indicated that she was about six years younger than Whitney and subsequently made a modest income as a medical office worker. The baby, a son, was born on 5/14/94"”two days after the 13th birthday of Whitney' first son. "Scientific testing" showed a 99.92% probability that Russell A. Whitney is the biological father of the child. Whitney admitted that he was the father in Response to Request for Admissions on 2/5/96. The mother was awarded "primary residential custody." In the settlement, the parties agreed that it was in the best interest of the child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents"”standard language in FL child-support and custody cases. The case was disposed of by summary judgment. Summary

judgment means the judge concluded that all the necessary facts were known so there was no need to have a trial. He decided the case on the papers that had been filed up to that point. Initially denied he was the father Whitney' initial answer to the mother' petition, which oddly comes a month after his admission that he was the father, seems to deny that he was the father of her child. A FL family law attorney says that' probably because FL law says that if you deny the request for admission, and the other side therefore has to spend money to prove it, you could be liable for those costs. Here are the paragraphs of the petition [mother' initial lawsuit document] juxtaposed with the corresponding paragraphs of Whitney' answer. They say in part, Mother: 3. Conception and Birth of Minor Child. [The mother] and Russell A. Whitney engaged in sexual intercourse from approximately 1990 to October 1993. As a result of having sexual intercourse during the period of conception on or about August 1993, [the mother] gave birth to [her son] on May 14, 1994. Whitney: 3. Conception and Birth of Minor Child. [Whitney] denies the allegations contained in paragraph 3 of the Petition, and demands strict proof thereof. Mother: 4. No Other Paramours: The [mother] did not have sexual intercourse with any other man during the period of conception listed above; nor did [she] have sexual intercourse with any other man during the three month period prior to conception or following conception of the child at issue. [She] did not participate in an artificial insemination or any other type of scientific means to become pregnant. Whitney: 4. No Other Paramours. [Whitney] is without knowledge as to the allegations contained in Paragraph 4 of the Petition, and therefore denies same. This uncomfortable discussion is apparently the standard language required in such cases. It points up the wisdom of not forcing the mother to file such a lawsuit to begin with. "JUDGMENT OF PATERNITY" The 12/19/97 entry in the court' chronology is "FINAL JUDGMENT OF PATERNITY AND SUPPORT FILED & REC." Whitney lost the suit. An unidentified document dated 6/25/96 orders "The Department of Vital Statistics to issue an amended birth certificate indicating"¦Russell A. Whitney to be the minor child' father." It also says the court has jurisdiction over all other equitable matters including but not limited to child support, parental responsibilities, visitation, confinement fees, health-related expenses and insurance, attorney' fees, suit monies, and all related relief. It is clear that Whitney fought the suit tooth and nail. The paternity suit chronology contains 106 events. A settlement agreement was signed by Whitney and the mother of the child on 10/15/97. The final judgment signed by Circuit Judge R. Thomas Corbin on 12/19/97 said in part, "2. The provisions of the settlement agreement are hereby adopted by the court. "4. Russell A. Whitney will pay [the mother] periodic child support in the amount of $800 per month. The first payment is due on Friday, 10/17/97. Subsequent payments are due on the fifth of every month. "5. Russell A. Whitney shall pay"¦ all past due amounts. [From between when the child was conceived and 10/17/97] "7. Russell A. Whitney shall pay [the mother' attorney fees]." Child support formula in Florida I assume that the $800 child support amount is based on some formula. One reader pointed me to Florida Statutes Title VI Civil Practice and Procedure, Chapter 61, Dissolution of Marriage; Support; Custody, Part I General Provisions, Section 60.31 Child Support Guidelines. I may be misunderstanding how a table in that section is applied, but it seems to say that an award of $800 per month of child support for one child means that the combined after-tax income of the two parents is $3,850 per month. The mother stated in court that her income was about $1,000 a month. That would leave $3,850 - $1,000 = $2,850 plus taxes as the monthly income Whitney claimed in court. Each parent' share of child support is determined by that parent' percentage of the combined income of the two parents. So it would appear that $800 is Whitney' share and that the mother also has to pay an unknown share. The guidelines says that each parent' share is determined by multiplying the minimum child support need by each parent' percentage share. I"m guessing the total minimum need in this case is around $950 and Whitney was ordered to pay $800 ÷ $950 = 84% of it. The Florida guidelines further state that if the parents have monthly income above the minimum determined by the table, they will pay additional child support of 5.0% of their income over $10,000. Apparently FL law looks at net income, not assets. That seems wrong. Colleges, for example, look at both income and net worth when determining how much aid, if any, a student is eligible for. In Whitney' case, considering how many assets he would have us believe he owns, one would think the net income from those assets would take him above the $50,000 a year category, aside from the net income from his corporate salary. No matter how you slice it, it sounds like Whitney convinced the Lee County judge that his income was around $50,000 or less a year at age 42. Rather strange when you consider that Whitney has long claimed he was a self-made millionaire at age 27. And that he lives in a new, 14,000-square-foot house he had built. Disqualification-of-attorney motion Oddly, Whitney' wife filed a motion for disqualification of the woman' attorney. That means that the attorney or his law firm had a prior connection to Whitney' wife. I say "oddly" because I would have thought Russ Whitney would make any such motion. His wife, by definition, is not a party to the paternity suit. Getting the opponent' attorney disqualified would not seem to be very substantive. All it would mean if Mrs. Whitney had won would be the suit would go forward, after a brief delay, with another attorney. Mrs. Whitney lost. Motion to seal file Whitney filed a motion to seal the file, that is, keep it secret from the public, on 3/26/96. That is common practice. Here is some of what it says"”along with my comments in [red brackets], "1. [Whitney] is a nationally known author on real estate investments. [Hey, so am I! Are we exempt from the rules that apply to lesser mortals?] "2. Irreparable harm would occur to [Whitney"] reputation if the matters contained within the court file, including [Whitney'] financial affidavit and other financial details of his personal life, were assessable [sic] to the public. [Why would a guy who has been bragging for years that he is a multimillionaire be hurt by disclosing that he is a multimillionaire? Seems to me his financial disclosure would only cause him harm if it revealed that he was a 24-carat phony who had very little money and was merely pretending to be a big financial success for all these years.] "3. In order to protect [Whitney'] interests and to avoid unnecessary detriment to [Whitney'] income and reputation, it is necessary that the court file be sealed. [How do truthful, under-oath statements in a court file hurt the income and reputation of man who has been truthful in his public life?] "4. Closure of the court file is necessary in order to avoid significant injury to [Whitney'] reputation and income which would in turn impact upon and cause detriment to innocent third parties, including [Whitney'] current wife and children." [So when he needs somebody to hide behind, his wife and kids come to the fore. Where was his concern for them when he was having sex with the employee he got pregnant?] [Seems to me that Whitney' motion arguments indicate a phony. Either he is lying to the court about how poor he is and does not want the statements he is making in court to become known to others who would recognize them as false. Or he has been lying to the public about what a big success he is and doesn"t want the public to know how little money he really has made. If there is another explanation, I would like to hear it. I can understand a general desire for privacy and to avoid embarrassment, but that' not what his motion says are the grounds. The motion repeatedly mentions his income being affected.]

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