- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2006

WESTON, W.Va. — A judge last week threw out a paternity claim filed by a 55-year-old German man who has fought for a decade to prove a long-dead state legislator is his father.

Franz Anthoefer should have filed a case by the time he was 21, the age set under the statute of limitations, but he did not seek legal recognition by the courts until 2001, when he was already 50, Judge Robert Sowa ruled in the closed-door proceedings Thursday.

“It is a total injustice,” Mr. Anthoefer said afterward, vowing to appeal.

“I’ll keep fighting, of course,” he said. “I’ve been fighting my whole life.”

Mr. Anthoefer, who grew up in an orphanage, believes he is the son of the late Louis G. Craig, a former Weston mayor and state lawmaker who died in 1971, just two weeks before Mr. Anthoefer traveled to the U.S. to try to find him.

Mr. Anthoefer claims Mr. Craig had an affair with his mother, Babette Anthoefer, in Rastatt, Germany, in 1950. He found his mother when he was a young man, and a German court has recognized Mr. Craig as his father, but Mr. Anthoefer wants similar recognition from the United States.

In 1996, Mr. Anthoefer received permission from a West Virginia circuit judge to have Mr. Craig’s body exhumed for DNA tests, which found a 99.93 percent match. The results were never disputed, but tests alone do not establish paternity.

Mr. Craig has no known survivors, and his estate has no known assets. A finding of paternity would make Mr. Anthoefer a U.S. citizen, but he said his primary goal is to be acknowledged as someone’s son.

Mr. Anthoefer said he became frustrated several times during the past week’s hearing because he was not able to talk about the DNA evidence.

“I am not getting my day in court. I want to be established as my father’s son. I want to belong to someone,” he said, breaking into tears.

Mr. Anthoefer had been so eager to follow in Mr. Craig’s footsteps that he ran for mayor of Weston in 1997 under the name Louis Craig Jr. He was deported on the eve of the election for being in the country illegally. He had not returned to the United States until last week.

A former cargo pilot and flight instructor, Mr. Anthoefer is the full-time caregiver for his 86-year-old mother, who lives with him in Bonn.


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