A court ordered Kansas man William Marotta to pay child support after donating sperm to a lesbian couple, Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer, over four years ago. Marotta, 47, responded to the couple’s advertisement on Craigslist seeking a sperm donor, allegedly signed a contract waiving his parental rights, and donated sperm to the hopeful parents for free. Almost five years later, a District Court of Shawnee County Kansas has Marotta questioning his generosity. On January 22, The District Court of Shawnee County Kansas ruled Marotta must pay $6,000 worth of accrued public assistance; according to the decision, Marotta is also liable for future child support payments.
The Shawnee County court defends its decision, ruling that Marotta and the Kansas women failed to follow due legal process. “In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process,” District Judge Mary Mattivi said, according to <em>The Associated Press</em>. The Kansas Department for Children and Families provided a similar statement to ABC: “We appreciate the judge’s careful consideration and attention to the law. The Kansas Department for Children and Families has maintained that KSA 23-2208(f) makes clear that individuals must go through a licensed physician in order to avoid the financial responsibilities associated with parenthood. The court and law support this position.”
Marotta and his lawyer, Ben Swinnen, are appealing the decision. Being a legal parent was never part of the plan, Marrotta told Kansas station WIBW. “I was a donor and [they] were the parents. We had a contract, and I said I am not going to be part of it and don’t ever intend to be part of it. They don’t want me to be part of it. Two people wanted to have a baby and couldn’t do it by themselves, so I assisted – that’s about it. [The state] is undoing a family,” Marotta revealed in the interview.
Moreover, Marotta’s lawyer, Ben Swinnen, argues that the lawsuit, filed by the State of Kansas on behalf of Kansas Department for Children and Families, is unfair. “He [Swinnen] said the ruling was ‘politically motivated’ in a state that has a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage,” ABC reports. Swinnen explains that the women and Marotta never intended to violate Kansas law. “They [the couple] looked up sperm banks and got the cold shoulder from a physician. They were being judged. … Nobody was aware of the statute,” Swinnen adds. Marotta told CNN that he did not know that Schreiner and Bauer performed the insemination without a doctor present.
CNN states that medical fees may have been another motivating factor, with artificial inseminations costing a minimum of $3,000 at a licensed physician’s office. Even so, the lack of a legal, medical witness leaves questions unanswered. CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains, “Under Kansas law, he is her father. Had a physician carried out the insemination, that would not be the case, because Marotta would be able to document that he was a sperm donor and not the lover of the girl’s mother.”
The biological mother indirectly alerted Kansas courts to the legal discrepancy. The mother applied for public assistance for food and medical assistance two years in a row. In 2012, the state denied the mother further assistance until she provided more information about the child’s sperm donor. It was then that the court filed the suit asking for Marotta to cover past expenses. According to Swinnen, the final amount was reduced to $4,000.