Not So Sharpe: Pennsylvania Man Jailed and Forced to Pay $12,000 for a Child for Another Man Over Seven Years

gavel2Over the last seven years, Walter Andre Sharpe Jr. has been forced to pay $12,000 in child support, jailed four times and estranged from his four children. It all began to unravel seven years ago when he signed a certified letter from Dauphin County Domestic Relations in 2001 and found himself covering the support of a child of another man. In the meantime, the real father — Andre Sharpe — has been living with the girl for the last four years.

This nightmare did not end unitl May 2007 when a judge reversed a finding that Sharpe was the father. But the state agency refuses to seek the return of the money and there appears to be no action planned against the real parents who let this poor sucker get drained and jailed for their daughter’s support.

Moreover, the agency fought his efforts to have DNA testing to prove that he was not the father — a position that should result in someone being fired. Why would the state agency be opposed to a test to determine if the agency was victimizing an innocent man?

The problem here is that the victim was clearly not a particularly adept person and the agency seems more geared toward forcing child support payments than determining the correct parent. I fail to see why the agency is not equally concerned about assisting people who claim to have been wrongly identified.

Sharpe’s problem began when he received a letter that clearly confused him with the real father, Andre Sharpe. Andre Sharpe had a different date of birth, a different Social Security number and different previous addresses. He also knew he hadn’t fathered a child with a woman named Terri Jones on the only trip that he ever took to Harrisburg.

Sharpe made a stupid mistake by not responding, but that is not an uncommon response by many people who assume that the problem will be rectified in time in some bureaucracy.
On May 29, 2001, since neither man attended the conference, Dauphin County Judge Scott A. Evans, as required by law, issued a ruling finding that Walter Andre Sharpe was the father.

Domestic Relations now blames Walter Sharpe, a former trash collector, for not filing the proper motions in court to “disestablish paternity.”

The problem is that it took a reporter less than two hours to track down the real father but this incompetent state agency not only failed to do so but spent all of its time opposing any means to determine the true father. The lawyers for the agency appear to have had little interest in determining if this claim had merit and simply carried out their duties robotically.

During his incarcerations and job terminations, Sharpe had trouble maintaining his real family. In May 2005, his 15-year-old son, Walter Andre Sharpe III, was murdered by a robber in Norristown.

Andre Sharpe says that he did not know that Jones and the child’s grandmother were seeking support since he claimed to have been supporting the child. The grandmother says that she did not receive the support money while the girl lived with her and that she simply would throw out Domestic Relations notices without opening them. However, Sharpe’s lawyer says that Battle fought efforts to get DNA testing.

What about the mother? Someone received this money and Andre Sharpe says that he has had regular contact with Jones. It seems to me that there is not just gross incompetence by the state agency but fraud to be pursued in this case. It also shows how, once again, domestic relations courts and staff need to be reformed in this country. It seems that these agencies are a steady force of scandals and injustices. What is truly galling is how this agency fought all efforts to determine the truth and now blame the victim.

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6 thoughts on “Not So Sharpe: Pennsylvania Man Jailed and Forced to Pay $12,000 for a Child for Another Man Over Seven Years”

  1. Walter Sharpe is entitled to complete compensation. Plus, he should be compensated for pain and suffering from the Dauphin County/PA Domestic Relations Department. If the Domestic Relations Department can afford to hire lazy, worthless, corrupt Domestic Relations Officers, attorneys and judges, then surely they can afford to correct this egregious injustice. In my opinion, Walter Sharpe’s minimum compensation should be: $12,000.00 (garnish wages) + $40,000.00 (lost wages for jail time) + $500,000.00 (pain and suffering) + expungement of his erroneous criminal record. Also, the Domestic Relations officer in this case should be held 100% accountable and severely punished (fined and loss of job). This case makes me sick.

  2. Unfortunately, this is not the first such case in this country. Many social service agencies just want to get money from someone, anyone, “in the best interests of the child”, and don’t care if they ruin an innocent person’s life to get it.

  3. When Mr. Bumble is informed that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”. Mr. Bumble replies “If the law supposes that… the law is a [sic] ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”

    From “Oliver Twist”

  4. Of course he’s not going to see any money. The county doesn’t care.

    I do have to say this though, the man should have called and asked what that was all about. He should have asked more questions. I would not have signed a certified letter from any company unless I was expecting it. He can reject it and make phone calls. I’m not completely blaming the guy, not everyone is educated enough to know any better. (and I’m not saying the man is uneducated, he may have just not given it a second thought when signing it)

    Shame on whoever rejected his petitions for paternity testing. He should have been a bigger pain in their side about it. But not to the point of him getting into trouble for disorderly conduct. But at least calling everyday, all the time until he got some answers. Or showing up everyday to try to get the matter resolved.

    Can he sue these parents? I would hope so. Those people ought to be ashamed of themselves. But they’re not. They’re not honest. They are just greedy. And they just don’t give a damn whose live(s) they may hve ruined do to their greed.

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