ELYRIA — Lorain County Probate Judge James Walther has banned another man convicted of failing to pay child support from having more children while he’s on probation.
Walther made headlines in 2013 when he imposed a similar procreation ban on Asim Taylor for failing to pay nearly $100,000 in child support to his four children.
In the latest case, Walther said London Chapman, 39, owes roughly $203,000 in back child support to 11 of his 13 children. The judge said it was the largest criminal nonsupport case he’s seen during his career.
“Defendant is ordered to make all reasonable efforts to avoid impregnating a woman during the community control period or until such time that Defendant can prove to the Court that he is able to provide support for his children he already has and is in fact supporting the children or until a change in conditions warrant the lifting of this condition,” Walther wrote in the order handed down in Chapman’s six criminal nonsupport cases.
Chapman, who lives in Lorain, will be on probation for five years, but his lawyer Giovanna Scaletta-Bremke said her client plans to appeal the procreation ban.
“People have a fundamental right to procreate and a restriction on the right to procreate is unconstitutional,” she said.
Walther didn’t disagree that there is a right to procreation.
“I actually agree with that, but being on probation interferes with a lot of people’s fundamental rights,” he said.
Assistant County Prosecutor Jennifer Goodall echoed Walther’s argument in a court filing supporting prohibiting Chapman from having more kids. She wrote that probationers are limited in who they can associate with, their access to firearms and when they can be searched by law enforcement.
She also wrote that the procreation ban was directly related to the crimes of which Chapman was convicted.
“The community control sanction proposed is designed to ensure that Defendant will be able to support his current children in the future,” she wrote.
Walther said neither Taylor nor Sean Whitehouse, against whom he also imposed the procreation ban last year, have violated his order and had more children.
Walther said Whitehouse didn’t challenge the order when he imposed it in September.
“He told me he didn’t want to fight it and he didn’t want to have any other kids,” the judge said.
Taylor appealed the decision in his case, but the 9th District Court of Appeals refused to reverse Walther’s decision because a presentence report compiled by the county’s Adult Probation Department on Taylor wasn’t included with the appeal paperwork.
Without that document, the appeals court wrote, a decision couldn’t be made about whether Walther acted appropriately.
The Ohio Supreme Court declined to review Taylor’s case but had previously struck down a similar order issued by former Medina County Common Pleas judge James Kimbler because Kimbler’s order didn’t include a way for the ban on procreation to be lifted.
Walther said he has crafted his orders in a way that allows for the ban to be lifted if the defendants make good on their back child support payments.
“If he pays it off, I’d lift it tomorrow,” he said.
Walther said he hopes the appeals court and Supreme Court look at the legal issues involved in his orders to determine whether they pass constitutional muster.