In a plot twist worthy of a daytime soap opera (or perhaps a “trash talk” show), a Houston man has been ordered by a judge to pay child support for a teenage girl who is not his biological daughter. A judge ruled that Gabriel Cornejo must pay $65,000 in back child support to an ex-girlfriend who had a daughter by another man.
The case goes back to 2003, shortly after the girl was born. Cornejo’s ex-girlfriend sued for child support, stating that she had only been intimate with him. Court records indicate the Cornejo was subpoenaed in the case, but he denies receiving the notice and never fought the case. The attorney for the child’s mother claims that the refusal to dispute the case indicates that Cornejo was willing to take responsibility for the payments.
Since the relationship ended, Cornejo has married, has three children of his own, and is caring for his brother’s two children. When he received court papers telling about the child from the previous relationship, he and his wife met with the child and her mother. Cornejo took a paternity test, which showed that he was not the child’s father.
Despite the scientific evidence, both the state and the child’s mother insist that Cornejo make the child support payments. He and his attorneys are attempting to have the case re-opened and get the payments dismissed.
“I never thought in my whole life I would have to defend myself or something that I am innocent of,” Cornejo said.
Cheryl Coleman, Cornejo’s attorney, also spoke out about the decision.
“They say he should have fought back then and he failed to do so,” she said. “But how can you fight something you don’t know anything about?”