Actually, this guy isn't asking for child support help. He's not supporting his children at all
because he's in prison. And he has only 24 children, not 30.
'Octodad' update: Officially, he has only 24 kids, not 30
By Rene Lynch
June 1, 2012
A Tennessee judge is taking the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets to task for publishing reports last month that said a Knoxville man had 30 children and was struggling to make child support payments for all of them.
Turns out 32-year-old Desmond Hatchett -- who has been dubbed "Octodad" in the media -- owes child support only for 24 children.
"What he is officially, legally responsible for is 24 children," Knox County Juvenile Court child support magistrate Stan Briggs told The Times on Friday. "The 30 figure is apparently something [Hatchett] may have said in a TV interview a few years ago. ... Twenty-four kids is the legally established number we have here."
Earlier in the week, the judge admonished The Times for picking up on this report and video posted by Memphis, Tenn., television station WREG. The report was in turn picked up by other media outlets, and then it went viral.
Journalists from as far away as Europe have been trying to line up interviews with Hatchett. A local radio station offered to pay for a vasectomy, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
The WREG story said that Hatchett was trying to catch a break on his monthly child support payments, some of which were as little as $1.49 because Hatchett wasn't making much money.
Briggs said none of that is true -- and that Hatchett hasn't made a court appearance on his child support cases since 2009. That's because he's been in prison on an aggravated assault charge.
"I think they spelled Desmond's name right," Briggs quipped about the media coverage in an interview with the Knoxville paper. "That was it. Basically everything in the (Times and WREG) story was incorrect."
Moreover, Briggs told The Times on Friday that the media had no business writing about Hatchett in the first place. "He doesn't need to be getting publicity for this kind of conduct. Weâ€™ve got 24 children that donâ€™t have the benefit of child support. Itâ€™s really a tragedy, pure and simple," Briggs said.
So how did this 24-30 discrepancy happen? Efforts to reach WREG were unsuccessful Friday. If that changes, we will update this post.
Briggs said he believed an earlier report about Hatchett's number of children was somehow recycled and updated.
We have also corrected our two earlier stories on Hatchett
Tennessee Department of Correction records, easily available online, show Hatchett, whose criminal history dates to age 18, continues to serve a prison sentence for aggravated assault at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg.
He's been there since 2009, when former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner revoked Hatchett's probation.
Hatchett lost his last bid for parole in 2010, and his sentence won't expire until November 2014.
Well, at least, being in prison is keeping him from procreating--for a few years.
This story shows how inaccurate reporting can spread and become viral very quickly--the initial facts were wrong and too many news outlets pounced on them and repeated them. Even in a number of current "Father's Day" stories, some media outlets are still reporting the original incorrect info about this man.
Obviously, this guy isn't a responsible individual, apart from fathering children he cannot support, he also appears to have a lengthy criminal history.
Who knows how his 24 children are being supported? Info on that doesn't seem to be available. One does have to wonder about the women who would allow themselves to become pregnant by this sort of irresponsible man, and wonder about whether they are able to support the children they allowed him to father.
Even if this man were not currently in prison, there is no way he can support 24 children, so there isn't even much of an issue of whether the state can give him "a break" on child support payments. Yes, they can insist he fork over something
for the support of these children, but these children will still need to rely on their mothers and/or the state for most of their maintenance. Unless this man wins the lottery, he won't make much of a positive financial difference in the lives of his children no matter what. He's not a parent, he's a sperm donor.
Octomom is a similar case. Her choice to have 14 children she knew she cannot support, as a single mom, was equally irresponsible from a financial viewpoint. But Octomom is raising her children, she is fulfiling the role of a mother in her children's lives.
While I personally think that Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar are crazy to have 19 children, at least they are able to support and care for those children.
But deadbeat "dads" like Desmond Hatchett are just a lost cause--nothing's going to turn him into a responsible parent, it's too late for that. Unfortunately, there are probably a lot of men just like him. And it's their children who will wind up suffering. That's the very sad part.