William Marotta thought he was doing a good deed -- a great one, in fact -- in presenting to two women the opportunity to have a child of their own.
But his well-intended decision to become a sperm donor for the couple has resulted in a legal, financial and emotional nightmare, as he finds himself in a high-stakes battle over what his attorney contends is a dangerous and misguided technicality.
The Kansas Department of Children and Families issued the surprising order that Marotta provide child support for the now 3-year-old girl, after one of her parents became unable to work due to what she describes as "a significant illness," according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. He is now challenging that decision in court.
"I can't even believe it's gone this far at this point, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it," he told the paper.
Marotta responded to a Craigslist ad in 2009 posted by Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner that they were seeking a sperm donor. The parties signed paperwork at the time which absolved Marotta of any financial obligations or parental responsibilities. So that should have been the end of it.
Except for one buried stipulation contained within Kansas statute 23-2208(f), which states that artificial insemination must be performed by a licensed physician. In this instance it was not and the state's position is that this now invalidates the agreement.
"In cases where the parties do not go through a physician or a clinic, there remains the question of who actually is the father of a child or children," a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families said earlier this week. "DCF is required by statute to establish paternity and then pursue child support from the noncustodial parent."
Marotta's name became known to DCF when Schreiner -- who separated from Bauer in 2010 -- applied with the state for health insurance for their daughter. The application, she was told, would be denied if she did not provide the sperm donor's name.
"I resent the fact that Jennifer was pressured into doing that in the first place," Marotta told the Capital-Journal. "That was wrong -- wrong by the state."
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There will be a hearing January 8 on Marotta's motion to dismiss the case. His attorney, Hannah Schroller, contends the state's requirement that a licensed physician perform the insemination could have wild implications.
In a court document filed December 20, she wrote that "Any woman in Kansas could have sperm donations shipped to her house, inseminate herself without a licensed physician and seek out the donor for financial support because her actions made him a father, not a sperm donor. This goes against the very purpose of the statute to protect sperm donors as well as birth mothers."
It's also not difficult to imagine the state's decision having the effect of causing some men to not donate sperm, afraid they may one day find themselves financially responsible for any child resulting from their donation.
As for the 43-year-old Marotta, he acknowledges being "a little scared about where this is going to go, primarily for financial reasons." The married father to several foster children says he's being crushed by the case, which has already cost him 10% of his annual salary.
A legal defense fund has been established for him and can be accessed through his attorneys' website.
Do you think the court should go against the state's decision? Do you think men would be less likely to donate sperm -- even for close friends -- if the state's order stands? Tell us in the comments below.
Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN