Who’s her daddy? Not me, Crist says

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Charlie Crist denied Thursday that he’s the father of a 17-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla., girl, reviving a paternity dispute that first surfaced last year during the Republican primary for governor.

A St. Petersburg couple read a newspaper account in September about how Crist in 1989 denied a woman’s claim that he had fathered her child. Despite the denial, Crist had signed a consent form allowing for her adoption.

The couple, Marshall and Cecilia Tucker, think Crist could be the biological father of the child they adopted that year, the St. Petersburg Times reported Wednesday.

The girl is now a college student. The paper did not use her name.

Crist, though, again denied that he was the father.

“This is something . . . a product born out of a political attack in the fall,” Crist said Thursday outside the Capitol. “There’s nothing to it. It’s absolutely false.”

The paternity dispute first became public just before the Republican primary. Crist’s rival for the nomination, Tom Gallagher, denied any involvement, although it later became known that his supporters had been in contact with the baby’s mother.

Background

Documents e-mailed to news organizations then showed that in 1989, Crist was identified as a child’s father by a St. Petersburg woman who gave birth June 23, 1989.

The Tuckers’ daughter was born that day. Further details in the adoption records have led the Tuckers and the birth mother to concur it’s the same girl.

But the documents also include an affidavit by Crist dated May 2, 1989, that states, “Parenthood by myself is not possible, as I never consummated the act necessary for parenthood” with the woman.

Crist last fall said he signed the consent form waiving all parental rights to avoid delaying or blocking the child’s adoption.

The Tuckers said their daughter, after reading the stories last fall, asked if she could contact her birth mother. They said they have tried for months to contact the governor through several intermediaries to let him know they were considering trying to contact the mother.

But the governor has not responded, the couple said.

In a posting on the newspaper’s Web site Thursday, Cecilia Tucker wrote, “We only contacted the governor out of respect and as a professional courtesy.

Our family will have no further comment on this situation.”

Asked Thursday why he doesn’t take a paternity test to eliminate any doubt, the governor said, “I’m not going to dignify it with any further comment.”

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