Andrew Douglas, director of the 2005 update of the white-knuckle horror film "The Amityville Horror," has sued his ex-wife, writer Ameena Meer, for paternity fraud. Meer's daughter is now 17. Douglas and Meer had an off-again/on-again sexual relationship back in the late 80s and early 90s when Meer lived in the U.S. and Douglas in England. In 1992, she telephoned him, told him she was pregnant and that he was the father. She begged him to marry her to save her Muslim parents embarrassment at having a grandchild out of wedlock. He agreed. Meer moved to London to be with Douglas about six months before the girl's birth, but didn't stay long. When the child was four months old, she moved back to the States and the couple divorced six years later. During all that time and up to the present, Douglas paid child support and for the girl's education and insurance. His suit claims he paid about $700,000 over the years. A combination of Meer's blocking his access and his own work that involved a lot of travel meant that Douglas has had little contact with the girl he thought was his daughter. But recently, the young woman happened to inquire about his blood type and Douglas figured out that the chances of his being her father were remote. He got genetic testing done and the results were that there was a 0% chance that he was the girl's father. So he's sued Meer for all the money she conned him out of. My guess is that he's sued for emotional distress as well although this article
doesn't say (New York Post
, 9/15/10). So far, the only information in the press comes from the allegations of his lawsuit which of course are slanted in his favor. But among other things, it tells us that, when Douglas confronted Meer with the fact that the girl is not his, she sarcastically replied that she must be the product of an "immaculate conception." Since then, apparently, she's backed off that patently false narrative of events. It seems that, back in 1992, she tried to get the actual dad to marry her and he refused, so she went to Plan B which was Douglas who made the mistake of believing her. According to a friend of Douglas, Meer has cut off all contact between him and the girl, and, into the bargain has increased her demands for money including $27,000 for back rent and $9,000 to pay for her kitchen remodeling project.
Asked about whether she'd intentionally lied to Douglas about the girl's parentage, she said, "Of course I didn't lie . . . I obviously didn't think that he wasn't her father," Meer said.
That brings up an interesting point - one that's plainly lost on Meer, and one that we see pretty often when the subject is paternity fraud. What is true is that Meer didn't know who the father of her child was. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I'll accept that she thought Douglas was the dad. But that doesn't mean that it was OK for her to tell Douglas that the child was his without mentioning the other man. Morally, she was obligated to tell him the truth - that she'd had sex with him and another man near the time of conception, so he might be the dad or the other guy might be. This was 1992; DNA testing was available, so they could have sorted out paternity at the time. But Ameena Meer wasn't interested in finding the correct dad; she was interested in finding a man who was willing to be involved and above all, to pay. Knowledge is power, so she used hers to decide for herself, by herself, who would play the role of father. It was her moral obligation to tell the whole truth to both men, but it was not her legal obligation. To my knowledge, there is in fact no law anywhere that requires a woman to tell a man about his child, or to tell the correct man or to tell all possible men. If I'm wrong, I hope someone out there will correct me. Indeed, many states (my native Texas being one) put the onus on the man to figure out that he's not the father rather than on the woman who, after all, is the one with the information required to ascertain the truth. And that would seem to be a problem for Andrew Douglas and his quest to get repaid. In order to successfully pursue a civil action, he'll have to prove that Meer committed a legal wrong and, as far as I know, lying to a man about paternity doesn't qualify. Again, if someone has contrary information, please let me know. The legal theory Douglas might be relying on is some version of intentional infliction of emotional distress, which may or may not fly. It's true that she intentionally withheld the information about the other potential father, but if there was no obligation on her part to disclose it, he may be out of luck. Presumably his attorney has covered those bases. Meanwhile, Meer shows no indication that she cares.
She called the legal action "a terrible thing for him to do to his daughter."
Well, that's one way of putting it. Another is that lying to Douglas was "a terrible thing to do to him, the actual father and her daughter." So far Meer shows no indication that she grasps that simplest of concepts. Stay tuned.