He’s renowned for his downhill prowess, but a celebrity US skier is facing an uphill struggle to wrest custody of his son from the child’s mother.
It is a custody battle that has gripped the US, with the mother of the child effectively being accused of kidnapping her own child before it was even born.
Olympic gold medallist Bode Miller had an affair with a former Marine, Sara McKenna, last year during which they conceived the now eight-month-old son.
During the course of the pregnancy, the skier not only began a relationship with but also married volleyball player Megan Beck. He has a five-year-old child from a previous relationship.
Before McKenna gave birth, the newlyweds had conceived a child, but Beck suffered a miscarriage.
It appears to have been shortly after that, 36-year-old Miller — who had allegedly told McKenna that “U are going to do this on your own” when she told him she was pregnant — then decided to seek joint custody of the baby he felt had been taken from him “in utero”.
He even demanded to have the boy’s last name changed to Miller on his birth certificate.
A judge ordered McKenna to return to California from New York, where she had moved to study and where her son Samuel was born, for the case. Samuel is Bode Miller’s first name.
On May 30, the family court judge then awarded Miller custody of his son, whom he then started calling Nathaniel.
The judge said that, in doing so, McKenna had “appropriated the child in utero” and, according to reports, found she engaged in a “reprehensible” act and “unjustifiable conduct”.
The child then went to live with the skier and his new wife.
He was soon in the media spotlight appearing in Austria with Miller when he made his comeback there last month following an extended injury lay-off.
At that event, Miller said: “There’s a lot to World Cup and having your most important people around you is something that has always been important to me.
“Before, I had Jake [Serino, a childhood friend] and sometimes family, and my Uncle Mike has been a coach. But now I have my own family over here, and it’s just the logical sort of step. I feel really, really good about it.”
However, McKenna was not going to give her child up that easily after what she described as the “misogynistic and patriarchal” ruling in California. Her lawyers said she felt like she had essentially been accused of kidnapping her own child. She filed her own case against the decision in New York.
On Nov 15, a Manhattan court overturned the ruling by the family court. It said Samuel/Nathaniel should not have been sent to live with Miller in California.
Following the ruling, a blog entry allegedly written by Miller and his wife appeared. It read: “It’s so sad that this situation has escalated to such a public forum and that the privacy and well-being of a little boy has been placed last to a mother’s desire for revenge [and] attention.”
The entry has since been removed.
Legal experts are studying the affair to see if a precedent has been set on the rights of the estranged parents of unborn babies.
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