Finding Dad

After the settlement of a public paternity suit with Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun, Michigan teenager Kara Hewes gains a college fund and a relationship with her father.

Written by Boston Globe and Originally Published in The Baltimore Sun on June 18th, 1993

In a legal settlement with a twist, Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun has acknowledged that he is the father of a Michigan teen-ager, agreed to pay her college costs and invited her to spend July at his Newport, R.I., estate.

Mr. Sundlun announced the out-of-court settlement of the paternity suit that was filed against him last week with his daughter, Kara Hewes, standing beaming at his side during a televised news conference yesterday in Providence.

"I think the important thing is not to look back," the 73-year-old chief executive told reporters. "We're here to look forward and try to create a relationship. You can't wave a magic wand and have a storybook life."

In a push toward family reconciliation, the two-term Democratic governor invited his 17-year-old daughter to spend the month of July at Seaward, his four-acre oceanfront estate in Newport. She accepted on the spot and later said she would even take his last name.

"I have achieved my goal -- financial assistance with my education and a chance to build a father-daughter relationship," she told reporters. "We both agreed that this would be a good starting point to begin building a relationship."

Mr. Sundlun, who lives with his fourth wife, Marjorie, has three sons, an adopted daughter and two stepchildren, in addition to Ms. Hewes.

"I told Kara I was proud to be the father of such an accomplished young lady," he said. "She is a bright, charismatic individual whom I look forward to getting to know better."

Ms. Hewes said she agreed to drop the lawsuit she filed against Mr. Sundlun on June 9 in the Michigan courts, seeking unspecified child support retroactive to 1975.

Both Mr. Sundlun and Ms. Hewes agreed under the settlement not to discuss it. They both said the time had come to move the issue out of the public spotlight.

The settlement also provoked a potential change in another relationship: Ms. Hewes' attorney, Henry Baskin, said he would move to vacate the girl's adoption by her mother's former husband, Robert Hewes. "When this is accomplished, Governor

Sundlun has agreed to acknowledge that he is Kara's only father," Mr. Baskin said.

Soon after her daughter's birth, Judith Hewes sued Mr. Sundlun for paternity. Under a court settlement, he agreed to give her $35,000 over five years, which he paid.

Kara Hewes, a 1993 honors graduate of West Bloomfield High School, plans to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

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