R.I. Governor Says He’s Not Ashamed of Having Out-of-Wedlock Daughter
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Rhode Island’s governor says he’s not ashamed of the disclosure that he has a teen-age daughter from an affair he had in the 1970s, a daughter who is suing him for support.
″No I’m not embarrassed ... Why would I be embarrassed?″ Gov. Bruce Sundlun told reporters. ″This child is looking out to me and I’m trying to reach her.″
Kara Hewes, 17, of West Bloomfield, Mich., filed a paternity suit Wednesday seeking financial support and other aid from Sundlun. She told reporters that the $35,000 Sundlun paid her mother under a 1976 agreement was not adequate child support.
The suit seeks an undisclosed amount.
Sundlun, a multimillionaire, disclosed the relationship Tuesday after Kara’s plans to file the suit were made public by her lawyer, Henry Baskin.
Sundlun has maintained that his obligation ended with the 1976 agreement signed by her mother, Judith Hewes.
Kara was adopted in Ohio by a man her mother married, but Baskin argued the adoption didn’t terminate Sundlun’s parental rights. Sundlun disagreed. Mrs. Hewes’ estranged husband abandoned the family seven years ago and his whereabouts are unknown, the lawyer said.
Sundlun challenged Mrs. Hewes’ contention that she had been involved in only one other lawsuit and called her a ″litigious″ woman. Sundlun gave reporters a list of seven lawsuits that he said had been filed by Mrs. Hewes in Oakland County, Mich., circuit court.
Kara said Wednesday in Birmingham, Mich., that she hoped Sundlun didn’t think she was a gold digger. ″It’s unfortunate if he does,″ she said. She said she filed the suit this week because of the proximity of her 18th birthday on July 16, when Sundlun’s potential legal obligation would end.
An informal telephone poll on WHJJ radio today indicated Rhode Islanders are evenly divided on who they think is telling the truth about details of the case.
The lawsuit alleged that Sundlun visited Kara within a week of her birth in 1975. The governor said he didn’t even know she had been born until years later. Kara also alleged she has tried to establish a relationship with Sundlun over the years; Sundlun said he had no contact with her until last October.
Mary Ann Sorrentino, a radio talk show host on WPRO-AM, said she was surprised by the support her callers indicated for Sundlun.
″In spite of the fact that many people may not be big fans of the governor, they and his supporters feel that it was a personal matter or one that occurred 18 or 20 years ago,″ Sorrentino said.
According to the lawsuit, Sundlun offered Hewes $1,000 annually during the years she attends college and said he would leave her a $10,000 inheritance. Kara said she rejected the offer as inadequate. Sundlun said his offer was more generous than that.
Sundlun told reporters Wednesday that his affair with Mrs. Hewes continued into the early months of his third marriage, correcting himself from a day earlier when he said the affair had ended shortly before the ceremony.
″I guess it says that I’m human, not perfect, make mistakes, have regrets,″ Sundlun said.
Sundlun, who married his fourth wife in 1985, has three sons in Rhode Island. He was elected governor in 1990 and re-elected last year.