Man claiming to be Audrie Pott's biological father proposes 'equal shared parenting' law

SAN JOSE (BCN and KTVU) -  UPDATE (1:00p.m. September 14, 2016):

The office of Assemblywoman Nora Campos contacted KTVU Wednesday and requested we remove this story from our website. They would not explain why, but in the past the Potts family has disputed Michael Lazarin’s claims that he is Audrie’s biological father.

The Pott’s family told KTVU they respectfully asked Campos’s office for an apology for supporting the proposed law, and also asked KTVU to remove the story.

The assemblywoman had no comment about whether she still was planning on introducing this law in January.

This comes after the following BCN report was posted Monday:

A man claiming to be the biological father of a Saratoga teenager who was sexually assaulted and bullied before she died by suicide in 2012 announced today with support from a state assemblywoman a proposed law intended to reform child custody law.

Michael Lazarin, who said he's the biological father of 15-year-old Audrie Pott, is seeking to have the "Equal Shared Parenting" law passed in the state next year that would extend the two-year statute of
limitations for when a biological parent is allowed to appeal to the court that they are the child's legal parent.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos plans to introduce the proposed law at the state Capitol in January.

Audrie's mother says Lazarin's claims are false and he's not Audrie's biological father. "He has lost in court twice and has absolutely no claim to her. It is extremely hurtful that he would do this on the anniversary of Audrie’s death and grandstand to get publicity for himself," said Lisa Pott. 

During a news conference outside San Jose City Hall this morning on the fourth anniversary of Audrie's passing, Lazarin described his struggle in gaining shared custody of her.

Lazarin said Audrie was "legally kidnapped" from him when she was 7 years old, and he believed the "alienation" she faced in being separated from his side of the family contributed to her death.

On Sept. 2, 2012, three 16-year-old boys sexually assaulted Audrie during an unsupervised party at her friend's home in Saratoga while she was drunk and unconscious.

At least one photo taken of Audrie during the assault was shown to other students at Saratoga High School, where she and the boys were sophomores. Audrie hung herself on Sept. 10, 2012, at her mother's home in Los Altos, became comatose and was taken off life support two days later.

The Potts filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013 against the three boys, who are now adults, and reached a settlement last year.

Before Audrie was born, Lazarin said he was in a relationship with her mother Sheila Pott, who told him she was in the process of a divorce. But after six months together, she returned to her husband Lawrence Pott.

A year after Lazarin and Audrie's mother separated, he found out she was pregnant and once Audrie was born, he saw physical resemblances to his family.

"It didn't require a genetic testing to know that she was my child," he said.

Lazarin said he reunited with Audrie's mother and raised the child together until she was 7 years old when the couple split up and he had no legal claim to the girl.

When Lazarin learned Audrie's mother never completed her divorce, he filed a lawsuit for joint custody of the girl.

He also found out under state law that he had two years since Audrie was born to sue her mother and order blood tests to determine their relation to one another and be her legal father.

"My ignorance of the law cost me everything," Lazarin said. The proposed law would call for the state to extend the statute of limitations to 18 years, which is common in most states, Campos said.

Many fathers in family court are stereotyped as parents who don't want to take responsibility for their children, the assemblywoman said.

"It isn't fair that our system, because it makes the process easier, can so easily remove a father from the picture without all the facts being present," Campos said.

Audrie's story has led to the creation of a state law named after her and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, which gives judges the choice to permit public viewing of hearings for juveniles facing sexual assault charges on victims that were unconscious or developmentally disabled.

The law, which was sponsored by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, also requires juveniles convicted of sexual assault to serve their sex offender treatment programs in their county of residence.

In addition, juveniles convicted of rape, sodomy or oral copulation aren't allowed to pay a fee, work community service or undergo a treatment program in exchange for dismissal of the charges, according to the law.

The 15-year-old girl is also the subject of a documentary titled "Audrie & Daisy," that tells the similar sexual assault stories of the Saratoga teen and Daisy Coleman, who has spoken out about her 2012 rape when she was 14 years old in Marysville, Missouri. The film is scheduled for a Sept. 23 premiere on Netflix.