Courts & Crime

Priest, ex-stripper battle in court over daughter's custody

MIAMI — The already sordid tale of the Rev. David Dueppen and his baby's mother, former stripper Beatrice Hernandez, turned even tawdrier Tuesday as the two traded intimate and bizarre allegations in a Miami-Dade courtroom.

Dueppen said he'd been abused as a child, making him unable to resist Hernandez's demands for sex.

Hernandez said Dueppen threatened to "disappear her'' by sending monks in brown robes to "shoot'' her if she revealed the baby's existence to the church.

The three-hour hearing in domestic violence court ended in a draw: A restraining order was dismissed, and both parties agreed to stay away from each other while continuing their custody battle for 11-month-old Marilyn Epiphany.

"The crib's ready,'' Dueppen, 42, said after the hearing, his first public appearance since the scandal surfaced in September.

The case drew international attention when Hernandez filed for a restraining order, claiming the disgraced priest had choked her during an argument over paternity. Dueppen denies the charge.

Her accusations came shortly after Miami television host and priest Alberto Cutié left the Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church after admitting to having a girlfriend. The couple have since married.

Dueppen is on leave from his associate priest position at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Pembroke Pines.

The priest met Hernandez, 41, seven years ago at Porky's, a now-defunct Miami strip club where she worked.

Their stormy relationship was well known to the church. Three years ago, the Miami Archdiocese paid Hernandez a $30,000 settlement to end the affair. The payout was conditioned on their not seeing each other anymore.

Hernandez claimed that Dueppen rekindled the romance in 2007 when he showed up at the Miami dollar store she owned.

But Dueppen's lawyer shot back, saying Hernandez lured him back by falsely claiming she had borne him a namesake son. As proof, lawyer Nick Berry played messages left on Dueppen's voice mail in 2006.

"You're a father. Yeah, we have a baby, [named] Dave,'' Hernandez cooed on a recording played in court.

Hernandez, evading the lawyer's questions, couldn't explain the recordings.

"I missed Father David,'' she said. "I loved Father David.''

After a private investigator could find no record of a "Baby Dave,'' Dueppen said, he finally drove to the dollar store "to ascertain if I had a child.''

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