Courts & Crime

Another Miami priest story, this one involving stripper, baby

MIAMI — She was an exotic dancer at a Miami strip club called Porky's. He showed up wearing a Hawaiian shirt, eager to share a night in the VIP lounge.

They began a torrid, on-and-off love affair that ended for good in January, after she gave birth to a daughter she says is his. Now, she wants child support and has filed a restraining order against him.

It might be a routine, if tawdry, court case if not for respondent David Dueppen's job: Catholic priest with the Miami Archdiocese.

The sordid story line inflicts another black eye on an Archdiocese already embarassed in May, when popular Miami television priest Alberto Cutié admitted to an affair with a woman, whom he quickly married.

Dueppen, 42, who once served at the same Miami Beach parish as Cutié, is now on leave from his associate priest position at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Pembroke Pines.

Former stripper Beatrice Hernandez filed the restraining order last week, claiming that an argument over paternity and child support escalated when Dueppen began ``grabbing her by the throat and choking her.''

``He is the devil,'' said Hernandez, 42, of Miami, who provided DNA test results naming Dueppen as the father. ``He is the devil dressed as an angel.''

The couple's past relationship was well-known to the church. Three years ago, the archdiocese paid Hernandez a settlement stemming from their long-running affair, which started seven years ago.

Within the last year, Hernandez says, Dueppen -- still a priest -- unexpectantly showed up to rekindle their romance.

The result, she says: Her baby, Marilyn Epiphany Hernandez.

Dueppen, a former Miami-Dade middle-school teacher who became a priest 10 years ago, says his lawyer advised him not to comment.

``I can't talk with you,'' Dueppen told a Miami Herald reporter Friday, adding that Hernandez's version is ``going to have a lot of inaccuracies.''

Dueppen, at his own request, is on indefinite administrative leave, said Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta, meaning he cannot perform church services or appear in priest garb.

Dueppen requested the leave for ``personal reasons'' during a meeting with Archbishop John C. Favalora in mid-August, she said.

Agosta could not say if Dueppen had revealed the baby's existence to the church, but she was unaware of the allegation. ``This information, if it's accurate, is very disappointing,'' she said.

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