Deadbeat dad gets 3-year prison sentence

October 23, 1997


Staff Writer

For years, Rodney Dwayne Weaver stalled and delayed on child-support payments for his two children.

Now, he has been sentenced to three years in prison. And not the relatively less severe county jail. The sentence handed down by Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell on Thursday requires Weaver to do his time in a Division of Correction prison.

Weaver, 36, of Big Pool, earned his sentence - one of the longest ever for nonpayment of child support - after years of late payments and missed court dates. McDowell ruled that Weaver violated the terms of probation.

Because it was a probation violation, the matter became a criminal matter, McDowell said.

"Very seldom these days, do child-support cases come before the court as a criminal case," he said.

In fact, McDowell said he cannot recall another such instance in his 4 1/2 years on the bench.


"It was pretty extreme," he said. "(This happens) when the failure to pay is intentional to such an extent that it becomes criminal."

Years ago, McDowell said, parents pressed criminal cases to get their former spouses and mates to pay child support. But over time, he said they have sought contempt orders, which are easier to obtain than criminal convictions.

At that point, most deadbeat parents comply, McDowell said.

But Weaver did not comply, according to the court. In September 1995, he pleaded guilty to failure to pay child support and was sentenced to three years in prison with all but 18 months suspended, court records said.

Work-release was ordered and Weaver also was placed on two years probation following release.

The terms of Weaver's probation required him to pay $50 per week in child support and $75 per week in arrears. He also was forbidden to change addresses without permission.

In January 1996, McDowell amended that sentence, suspending the remainder of the term, court records said.

Thursday was the third time since 1996 that Weaver appeared in court for a violation of probation hearing, court records said. The state dropped charges in August 1996 after Weaver made significant payments, court records said.

Last March, Weaver admitted to violating probation and was ordered to post a $2,500 bond plus pay an additional $500 directly to the Washington County Department of Social Services, court papers said.

Weaver still owes $3,700, court records said.

Court records reveal a long history of dodging financial responsibility for his two children, ages 14 and 15.

Weaver failed to appear for three child-support hearings in 1991 and one each in 1995, 1990, 1989 and 1988, court records said.

At one time, Weaver owed more than $10,000, according to the Department of Social Services. Between 1991 and 1995, Washington County Sheriff's deputies could not find Weaver to serve him with a subpoena.

Weaver's ex-wife, Pamela Keefer, expressed frustration about the system in a 1993 interview.

"I don't see why they can't put him in jail, give him work-release, confiscate his pay check and then give the money to me and my children," she said. "It seems so simple to me. I don't know why they won't do that."

The Herald-Mail Articles