by PETE SHELLEM, Of The Patriot-News
Saturday November 15, 2008, 10:32 PM
When Walter Andre Sharpe Jr. signed for a certified letter from Dauphin County Domestic Relations in 2001, he didn't know he was signing on for a seven-year nightmare. Since then, the Philadelphia man has been thrown in jail four times, lost his job, become estranged from his four children and spent more than $12,000 to support the child of another man.
It finally stopped in May 2007 when a judge reversed a finding that he was the father. But the same judge has since ruled that Sharpe is not entitled to any compensation, not even the money he was forced to pay to support the child.
Sharpe's attorney, Tabetha Tanner, said the county Domestic Relations office "stole" Sharpe's identity by exchanging his date of birth, address and Social Security number for that of the father.
The agency fought Sharpe's attempts to have DNA testing and said it determined he was the father "after reasonable investigation."
Yet it took The Patriot-News less than an hour to track down the real father, Andre Sharpe, who said the girl that Walter Sharpe has been paying support for has been living with him for the last four years.
But in court papers, Domestic Relations blamed Walter Sharpe, a former trash collector, for not filing the proper motions in court to "disestablish paternity."
"What type of investigation were they doing if you can track this guy down in less than eight hours?" Walter Sharpe asked. "It just pisses me off. I tried my best to clear myself of this case, and it fell on deaf ears. It's like I'm guilty until proven innocent. I'm just another man crying, 'I don't know this person. I don't have their kid.' It's a routine they're just used to."
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