Photo: courtesy Rhino Den
Sometimes it takes genuine injustice to put things in perspective. I was recently reminded of this during my clash with a prominent floral service that failed to deliver a chocolates order on Valentine’s Day … and the next day … and the next day … and as I write this opening paragraph. Nobody likes having their money held hostage. But, again, perspective has humbled my rage about the incident.So begins the story of Marine Staff Sergeant Brandon Parsons and his role in one of the most baffling legal debacles in the history of paternity cases.
A Superior Court of California judge has recently ruled that SSgt Parsons, a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, must continue to pay child support another twelve years for a child that ISN’T his—a payment that, counting the $50,000 he’s already remunerated his ex-wife, Crystal Parson, will put him on pace to pay over $250,000 before his legal obligation ends (twelve years from now), according to his lawyer. This payment, broken down, takes up approximately one-third of his current salary.
The judge, having made the decision because of a loophole in the events leading up to the ruling, didn’t hold back in his disdain for Parsons’ ex-wife’s actions. The first sentence in the second paragraph of the court’s ruling says it all:
While the court concludes that father was, in fact, despicably duped and victimized by Petitioner Crystal Parsons’s (hereinafter “Mother”) fraudulent concealment regarding biological paternity, a deception which has placed a significant, continuing financial burden upon Father, existing law, as applied to the facts of this case, precludes the court from setting aside the prior paternity determination or ordering genetic blood testing.
So how did this apparent calamity of justice happen? Here’s the gist:
After completing his first combat deployment in the Spring of 2005—of which he spent the majority of time fighting in Ramadi, Iraq—SSgt Parsons, then a 20-year old corporal, returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and immediately began a sexual relationship with his then-fiancé, Crystal Domenech. Their first sexual encounter was, according to court documents, on April 5, 2005.
Seventeen days later, Crystal announced to Brandon that she was pregnant. Brandon, without questioning any aspects of her statement or the legitimacy of his biological paternity, decided to bump up their scheduled nuptials and spent the majority of his money (an estimated $20,000)—of which most came from his recent deployment—on her dream wedding.
What both Brandon and the court now know is that Crystal Domenech Parsons had been engaged in numerous sexual affairs while he was on deployment and, consequently, the child that Brandon raised—under the assumption he was legitimately the father—was indeed that of another man. (Crystal Parsons refuses to name the true identity of the biological father to this day.) Moreover, it was both alleged by Parsons and believed by the court that Crystal chose to sleep with then-Corporal Parsons purely to cover up her previous sexual encounters and pin the pregnancy on him, therefore having access to his military benefits.
It was after the end of Parsons’ second deployment to Iraq that Crystal Parsons …
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