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Man Arrested After Admitting on TV to Fathering 14-year-old’s Baby

December 5, 1996

DOVER, N.H. (AP) _ A 20-year-old man who admitted on a national talk show that he fathered a 14-year-old girl’s baby was charged with statutory rape after the girl’s mother gave police a video of the show.

Carl Carlson went on Sally Jesse Raphael’s talk show for an episode entitled ``I’m 14 and I Want a Baby,″ with his teen-age girlfriend, their baby, born in July, and the girl’s mother. The show aired locally Nov. 22.

The girl, now 15, was 14 when the child was conceived. The legal age of consent in New Hampshire is 16.

During the show, Raphael asked Carlson if he understood he had violated the law when he had sex with the girl.

``I understand that,″ said Carlson. ``I should have thought about that a little bit more.″

He paused, then said, ``A lot more.″

The victim’s mother said she had called the show and asked to be a guest with her daughter after seeing a promotion for a future show about teen-aged parents.

``I thought it would knock some sense into her,″ the girl’s mother said.

Tiffany Avery, who produced the episode, would not discuss whether the show’s producers warned Carlson he might face legal repercussions.

Lee Fryd, the show’s spokesman, told The New York Times in Thursday’s edition that the mother had said she wanted Carlson to be arrested.

Ms. Fryd said that Carlson’s admission of wrongdoing was ``the kind of epiphany we look for on our show.″

Police began investigating a possible crime after the child’s birth, but suspended the investigation because the girl was uncooperative, according to Sgt. Anthony Colarusso.

``It’s important those adults who have sex with minors be held accountable,″ Colarusso said.

The girl’s mother gave police a tape of the show last week, and viewing it convinced them to arrest Carlson.

``The tape was very key,″ Colarusso said. ``In fact, without the tape, we wouldn’t have made an arrest.″

Carlson faces one count of felonious sexual assault. The maximum sentence is three-and-a-half to seven years in prison. He’s being held on $1,000 bail.

Carlson’s family refused comment Wednesday. His defense lawyer, Jen Sobel, said Carlson would plead not guilty despite his televised admission.