RACINE — Looking across the courtroom at a deadbeat dad of nine, who owes almost $100,000 in back child support and interest, a judge on Monday lamented not being able to prohibit certain men from breeding.
“This has come up before,” Racine County Circuit Court Judge Tim Boyle began. “It’s too bad the court doesn’t have the authority to sterilize.”
Before him was Corey Curtis, 44, of Racine. Curtis had fathered nine children with six women, Boyle said, and was in the hole on child support payments for his youngsters.
Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Sommers said Curtis owed about $50,000 in back child support, plus another $40,000 in interest.
“Common sense dictates you shouldn’t have kids you can’t afford,” Boyle said, voicing frustration.
That’s when Sommers piped up that Boyle did have authority to restrict Curtis’ future breeding. She said a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling found that a judge may, as a condition of a person’s probation, order the defendant not to have another child unless he can show he can support that child.
“I will make that a condition of the probation,” Boyle said immediately, sentencing Curtis to serve three years’ probation.
Curtis pleaded no contest in October to one count each of felony bail jumping and failure to pay child support, which is a misdemeanor, court records show.
“He is not to procreate until he can show he can provide for them,” Boyle ordered, adding Curtis must show he can financially support all nine of his existing children, as well.
Defense attorney Robert Peterson said that probation condition was not recommended in Curtis’ pre-sentencing investigation report, compiled by Wisconsin Department of Corrections probation agents.
“I’m not following the PSI,” Boyle said, a slight smile spreading across his face.
Court records show that Curtis has remained free on a $500 signature bond since June 2011, when he was charged.
Sommers declined to comment after the hearing.
In July 2001, Wisconsin Supreme Court justices upheld a Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed the probation condition stemming from a Manitowoc County case. In that case, a man had been charged with seven counts of intentional failure to support his nine children, according to the Supreme Court ruling in State vs. Oakley.
The justices ruled in that case that defendant David Oakley’s constitutional right to procreate wasn’t eliminated. He still could reproduce — if he made child support payments, according to the ruling.
“This case is about a man who intentionally refuses to pay support regardless of his ability to do so. That was the dilemma faced by the sentencing court, and that is what led to the court’s order,” wrote Justice Jon Wilcox.