FT. MYERS, Fla. - Just more than a month after being appointed Lee County Sheriff, Carmine Marceno is facing a public legal battle after a pregnant woman says he is the father of her unborn baby.
Deanna Williams filed a paternity lawsuit November 5 and says she wants sole custody of the baby that is due in spring of 2019, claiming the father does not wish for the child to be born.
After long discussion, Williams finally agreed to an on-camera interview. She told FOX 4 anchor, Jane Monreal, "I wanted to give him a little bit of time to get to the point where he would absorb things and have a rational conversation about it. I wanted him to realize that this child is going to be born. We are having a baby and he needs to discuss this, and like most parents do, discuss all of those issues that come with having a baby."
Williams says Marceno has insisted she terminate the pregnancy so vigorously, that's she's scared. She said, "I am concerned about his level of desperation, the tone in his voice, the panic, that abortion was the only way. He was so adamant that anything else was absolutely wrong, that I could not have this child, that I would not have this child, that I would not, under any circumstances."
Williams and her attorney say those statements are the reason they're asking a court to keep Marceno from having contact with the baby after its born. The suit reads in part, "The court should establish a parenting plan with the following provisions: no time-sharing with the father. This schedule is in the best interest of the child because the father does not wish for the child to be born, nor to accept the child into his life. In the alternative, the mother requests supervised timesharing for the father."
FOX 4 tried to get the sheriff's response to these claims and were told, "The Lee County Sheriff's office is declining your request for an interview. This is a personal matter being handled by the sheriff through his attorney."
Our calls to Marceno directly and his attorney have gone unanswered. We checked to see when the sheriff was last in the public spotlight. Social media from the sheriff's office on October 18 shows the sheriff posing with a state representative.
Since Marceno was appointed by Governor Scott, we asked the governor if he has anything to say about this. He has not responded. Since the office of sheriff is normally an elected and always a partisan office and Marceno is Republican, we reached out to the Lee County Republican party. Their chairman said they were unable to comment at the time, since they had not yet held a meeting to discuss the matter.
Former Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott told FOX 4 by phone he stands by Marceno as sheriff. He said, "l have faith and confidence in Carmine professionally." Scott also said he's not involved in Marceno's personal life but has been in contact with him. He said, "I only know what I've seen or heard publicly. Obviously I've spoken with Carmine a little bit about it and of course encouraged him to understand, there's a professional side and a personal side. Sometimes they can become co-mingled."
The lawsuit only refers to a personal relationship between Marceno and Williams. The suit does state, "The father does not wish for the child to be born." Williams said, "He told me that, pregnancies can end in other ways other than abortion." She adds, "That was on the phone, and I asked if that was a threat and I asked him to clarify that. And he said something like, 'Hun you got to realize you gotta do what's right.' "
FOX 4 also talked to former prosecutor, Chris Crowley, who is familiar with the law and says he's acquainted with Sheriff Marceno and is a friend of Williams. Crowley said, "She was very nervous, very afraid, she was being bullied by the sheriff to have an abortion and she wanted to keep the child. And I tried to kind of mediate the process." Crowley says he reached out to the sheriff and left a message a couple weeks ago. He said, "I was trying to see if we could work something out quietly and mutual because I'm a certified mediator, but it never happened."
Williams wants Marceno to take care of what she says, are his responsibilities. She said, "This is his child too. I wish he cared. It's very hard. I don't know what it's like to for a child to be born with one parent who cares and one parent who not only doesn't care, but also absolutely doesn't want him or her to be born. It's hard to think about."
In 2010, Williams did file a lawsuit against professional baseball player, Johan Santana, with the Lee County Court Clerk, stemming from a sexual battery complaint in October of 2009. Santana was not prosecuted due to "not enough evidence." In response to negative comments on social media, Williams says that is unfair and a separate issue. She said, "I am aware of media reports that are disparaging, that paint me as someone who has filed lawsuits and that's absolutely not the case. That's not something that I've sought to do. I believe as a victim of violent crime, you should still pursue all avenues of justice."
Marceno was appointed to finish two of Mike Scott’s four year term. He will have to run for re-election after that.