Miami (USA) — A former Catholic priest who created a scandal in Miami because of his affair with a former stripper acknowledged paternity of a child born during the relationship with the woman and now wants a large part in her custody, The Miami Herald reported yesterday on its website.
David Dueppen asked a court in Miami-Dade County that he be granted custody of the baby Marilyn Epiphany at least 70 percent of the time with the child, according to court papers filed this week.
"He has never denied paternity of the child and would like to be very involved in her life," said Raymon Rafool, lawyer for the 42-year old former priest.
The lawyer also denied the charges of alleged domestic abuse that have been made against his client.
The scandal of the love affair between Dueppen and former dancer Beatrice Hernandez broke out last September when the woman asked for support for the girl she gave birth to in January and said that the father was the former priest.
Hernandez also requested a restraining order against the former priest who, according to her, began to suggest that she attend a swingers club and a nudist colony so that she could be released from the evil spirits that Dueppen said possessed her.
The woman revealed that she met Dueppen at the nightclub where she worked as a stripper.
Dueppen worked at St. Francis de Sales, Miami Beach, the same church where famous former Catholic priest Alberto Cutie, who was captured by a photographer on a beach caressing and kissing a woman who later became his wife when he abandoned Catholicism, celebrated Mass.
The relationship between Dueppen and Hernandez ended in 2005 and she threatened to sue the church and to avoid the suit the Archdiocese of Miami reached an agreement with the former dancer through which she received $ 100,000, said the woman.
But the affair resumed in 2006 when Dueppen sought out the former dancer and two years later she became pregnant.
According to Hernandez, the former priest put into questioned his paternity, so she demanded a DNA test.
The former priest initially refused and Hernandez threatened to go to the Church with the baby.
During that time, said Hernandez, both had violent arguments and on one occasion Dueppen allegedly tried to strangle her.
The Archdiocese of Miami has reported that in 2006 it was informed through an attorney that the former priest was allegedly failing to comply with a fiduciary relationship with a woman.
"When he became aware of this, Archbishop John Favalora removed Fr. Dueppen from parish ministry and gave him a leave of absence for 13 months. During that time, he recieved professional spiritual help, including his obligation to faithfully practice celibacy and all other aspects of a moral life," a statement indicated.
After a favorable professional report, and a renewed assurance by Dueppen that he could and was willing to lead a celibate life, the former priest was reassigned to a parish in 2007, but not with the responsibilities of a pastor.