Man’s fight isn’t over in $65,000 child support case for child that isn’t his
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) —
Gabriel Cornejo’s story of being told by a court to pay $65,000 for a child that DNA proves isn’t his is a story that is now making headlines worldwide.
Cornejo will be back in court later this month. At the same time, he claims he’s using his new notoriety to fight for other fathers in the same spot.
Cornejo’s story certainly struck a nerve: a man being told to pay up for a child that DNA proves isn’t his. And the story went global.
“Texas, United Kingdom, we heard from Australia,” Cornejo said. “All over the world.”
Their reaction is the same as his.
“Everyone is stunned this is happening,” Cornejo said.
Cornejo’s ex-girlfriend swore in court more than a decade ago that he was the father of her child. Cornejo was served with child support papers just last year and by then, the debt had risen to nearly $65,000. He claims he never knew about it and a DNA test last year proved he wasn’t the dad.
But in Texas, that doesn’t matter.
“Do you think the state is even looking for the new dad?” asked ABC13 Investigates Ted Oberg.
“Why would they?” Cornejo said. “They already have one.”
Cornejo says the claim of his responsibility is based on deductions from his paychecks in 2003 for child support. Cornejo and his lawyer suggest there were just three or four deductions for $50 each. He claims he didn’t see them back then — the pay stubs are long gone — and because he didn’t fight them in 2003, Texas law could make him liable for the whole debt now.
“They could have found me anytime they wanted me,” he said.
He tells us he always had a driver license, utility bills, that he’d been stopped by police and never until last year did the state try to collect. Now he gets bills all the time.
“Texas needs to change the system.”
Cornejo is inviting people who support him to march from Houston to Austin, hoping to get lawmakers attention to change the law. He’s planning to leave from the steps of the civil courthouse on Aug. 11 at 6 a.m., walking all the way to the state capitol.
“Any law that requires you to prove your innocence beyond a DNA test, it’s not a law, it’s a trap.”