LOS ANGELES — A longtime friend of Sam Kinison said Thursday that he recently obtained DNA testing that shows the late comedian fathered a daughter with his ex-wife and that he hopes the revelation will free him from years of unpaid child support penalties.
Comic Carl La Bove filed a petition Thursday to try to invalidate a nearly 13-year-old agreement requiring him to make payments for the girl, who is now 21 years old. As of 2009, La Bove owed nearly $188,000 in back child support, according to a statement filed with his petition.
The debt has left La Bove without a driver's license, a passport and shoddy credit, he said.
But he said any animosity he felt toward Kinison for sleeping with his now ex-wife during Kinison's hard-charging heyday in the late 1980s is gone.
"I learned to forgive him for his actions," La Bove said outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse Thursday.
A comedian who opened for Kinison for years and was with him when he died in a car accident in California in 1992, La Bove is hoping that the release of child support obligations will allow him to drive himself to gigs from now on.
Success is not guaranteed, said Michael McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers & Children, which is aiding La Bove in his case. The 52-year-old comic will have to show that he was coerced into signing the 1998 agreement.
In his court filings, he claims he was not fully informed of his rights before signing the agreement. In an interview, he said that his divorce from his ex-wife took six years and that his attorney never suggested he challenge the paternity of the child, even though his then-wife had told him that Kinison was the girl's dad.
Kinison's brother, Bill, took a DNA test that showed the likelihood that his famous brother was the young woman's father. He said Thursday evening that while he had never met her, there were indications that the brash comic was her father.
"She looks like she'd be Sam's daughter," Bill Kinison said.
He noted that his brother and La Bove both had lifestyles akin to rock stars during his lifetime.
"Sam and Carl lived a lifestyle that was pretty promiscuous," Bill Kinison said.
He also acknowledged large hurdles that La Bove will face in trying to get his name cleared, although he said he understood why he was doing it.
"I'd want to get that off me too," he said.
McCormick said La Bove's fight should be aided by a 2004 California appellate court ruling that states the government should correct mistakes in child support actions and "minimize the harm and correct any injustice to that person."
Despite all that, La Bove's prospects for success are unclear, McCormick said. "He's really in legal limbo."
A hearing on La Bove's petition is scheduled for March 29.
La Bove said he has a good relationship with the young woman who is likely Kinison's daughter. He said it wasn't until she showed up at one of his performances three years ago that he had an opportunity to try to set the record straight on who her father was.
"She wants me to have my life back," La Bove said. "She is my best friend's daughter."
DNA testing submitted to the court Thursday shows La Bove has a zero percent probability of being her father. Additional tests done using samples from Kinison's two brothers, one of whom is now dead, show a 99.8 percent chance that she is related to them.
La Bove said he hopes that the woman, who declined comment Thursday, will one day be able to benefit from the late comic's estate. It is controlled by Bill Kinison, who La Bove accused Thursday of forging estate planning documents and providing him with an attorney who coerced him into signing a 1998 agreement requiring him to make child support payments.
"His attorney had an interest in not representing him zealously," McCormick said.
Bill Kinison denied La Bove's accusations. "There's no validity to that," he said.
"Why would I get him an attorney period, if I was going to keep anything hidden?" he said, also asking why he would take a DNA test years later.
La Bove said DNA testing was never considered during his divorce, even though for years he said he had been told that Kinison was the girl's father, not him.
The revelation, along with the loss of Kinison, sent La Bove spiraling for several years, he said. He attempted suicide, and he drank heavily.
"Alcohol was the only way to get through my shows," he said.
Bill Kinison said La Bove refused DNA testing at the time and other measures recommended by the attorney.
He also said his late brother died a million dollars in debt and the estate makes only modest earnings now. "We barely keep it solvent," Bill Kinison said. He said a biopic on Sam Kinison has been contemplated for more than a decade, but he doesn't know if it will ever be made.
The paternity testing and the prospect of having the child support debts erased have given La Bove hope that he'll be healed completely.
"The stage is the only place I have my freedoms," he said.