Carnell Alexander of Detroit has been fighting for some time to clear his name, but on Tuesday he was dealt a harsh blow when a judge ruled that he must still pay $30,000 in back child support for a child whom the courts now know is not his, ABC 7 reports.
The story starts back in the the late 1980s, when an ex-girlfriend needed a name to put down as the father of her child so that she could receive welfare. She used Alexander's name knowing that he was not the father. Alexander says he didn't learn of this until years later when he was stopped for a traffic violation and was told that he was being arrested for back child support.
Alexander claims that after his release he tried to find the ex-girlfriend so that he could get a DNA test to prove that he was not the father, but she was not at the address the courts had given him. He claims that he searched for the woman for years but had no luck finding her. He didn't have the funds for a private investigator, so he was left to do the work himself. Alexander says that he finally came across a mutual friend who knew of the woman's whereabouts.
He found her in 2013, they talked, and she told him the story of the welfare papers and apologized for causing him such grief, Alexander claims. He got the DNA test and went back to the courts; the only problem was that the court was hinging his responsibility on a document that a server claimed they'd delivered to him years ago. The server notes that Alexander received the letter making him aware of the fact that he was being identified as the child's father. Alexander claims that the server lied and he has a foolproof alibi: The day the server claims Alexander signed for the letter, he was in prison—and the news station confirms this.
Speeding up the story to more recent events, a lawyer hears of the case and agrees to take Alexander on pro bono so that she can help clear up this mess. But on Tuesday Alexander and his lawyer, Cherika Harris, were shocked when a judge decided that because it had taken Alexander some 20 years to rectify this situation, he was responsible for the back payment.
That's right: The judge is demanding that Alexander pay the $30,000 in back child support even though the courts, Alexander, the child's mother and the now-adult child all agree that he is not the father. The real father is also involved in the child's life, the news station reports.
"I am outraged that Mr. Alexander for two-and-a-half decades failed to take this matter seriously," said Michigan Circuit Judge Kathleen McCarthy, ABC 7 reports.
The judge didn't stop there; she also condemned the news station for bringing his story to light. "I am outraged at the media for the willful misrepresentations of the facts of this case," said McCarthy, according to ABC 7, "casting this court in a negative light."
According to the judge, Alexander had three years to file a motion with the court.
"That motion must be filed within three years after the child's birth, or within one year after the order of filiation is entered. The defendant has failed to timely file this motion setting aside the acknowledgment of parentage," said McCarthy, according to ABC 7.
"Somebody should have helped him," his attorney, Harris, told ABC 7. "To continue to harass and burden him to pay for a child that is not his, when they know who the real father is now, I don't understand this." Harris told the news station that her next action is to try and get the amount reduced.
A stunned Alexander was still having trouble wrapping his head around the judge's decision. "How can you start a case with a lie?" he asked ABC 7. "The mom lied. The process server lied. Now I have to pay for it."
Read more at ABC 7.