Son could be tested

Michael Holahan/Staff
Brown

James Brown's widow - or ex-girlfriend, depending on whom you believe - says she'll submit her 5-year-old son to a paternity test as long as the late Godfather of Soul's other children also give DNA samples for comparison.

 

"I will not allow them to bring in fake blood of my husband and put me in another trick," Tomi Rae Hynie Brown said Friday.

Meanwhile, a family attorney says the performer's inner circle is disgusted by Mrs. Brown's behavior since his Christmas Day death and that if she keeps it up she'll face legal action for breaking a confidentiality agreement she signed in 2000.

"If she continues her pattern of conduct, she's asking for us to do something," California attorney Debra Opri said. "The Brown family does not consider it appropriate for her to use the media as a pulpit for her protestations.

"They're asking her to please, please allow their father the dignity in death that he deserves."

At issue is whether Mrs. Brown is entitled to any part of his estate. Mr. Brown's attorneys contend she is not his widow because she was still married to another man when they said their vows and because those vows were never renewed once her first marriage was annulled. They also have hinted that her child isn't Mr. Brown's. Mrs. Brown has hired her own attorney, Robert Rosen, of Charleston, S.C. Mr. Rosen represented her in a 2004 annulment proceeding in which a Charleston judge ruled that her marriage to a Pakistani immigrant was void ab initio, which in Latin means "from the beginning."

Now another dispute is brewing. Despite a signed agreement not to discuss Mr. Brown's business or personal affairs, Ms. Opri said, Mrs. Brown has done that over and over in media interviews since his death. One interview appeared in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, in which she characterized Mr. Brown in his winter years as a sick, paranoid, violent, cruel old man with a failing libido.

On the day of his death, she told The Augusta Chronicle that attorney Buddy Dallas and accountant David Cannon had locked her out of Mr. Brown's home in Beech Island, adding that she had no money.

Then she said on CNN's Larry King Live on Wednesday that Mr. Brown left an $80,000 check for her to pick up when he died.

Contacted Friday, Mrs. Brown would not comment on the confidentiality agreement, except to say that any contract not to discuss her and Mr. Brown's personal lives was violated by both of them.

"(Mr. Brown) was the first one to do it," she said of an interview he conducted with The Hollywood Reporter many years ago. "Me and my husband were always candid with the press and always talked about our lives."

Under the contract, Mrs. Brown could be forced to turn over any payments she has received from media outlets for interviews, plus attorneys' fees, Ms. Opri said.

Calling any potential lawsuits "silly," Mrs. Brown said she believes Mr. Brown's family and legal representatives are attempting to assassinate her character.

"I think they're trying to make it a bigger issue than it is because they're just trying to throw every stone at me they can," she said.

Despite his eccentric public image, Mr. Brown was a deeply religious man with old-fashioned values, and he was horrified to find out he had married a married woman, said Ms. Opri, who once represented Mr. Brown in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

"Mr. Brown is gone," the attorney said. "He died a single man."

Ms. Opri said the issue of whether Mr. Brown is the father of James II has to be resolved. Asked what would happen if Mrs. Brown doesn't agree to DNA testing, Ms. Opri said, "It all boils down to what Tomi Rae wants for her child."

Mrs. Brown said she'll do it as long as her stipulations are met.

"I say bring it on," she said.

Fearful of retaliation and harassment from Mr. Brown's family, Mrs. Brown said, she recently moved to Los Angeles.

Though she wouldn't say Friday whom she is living with, Mrs. Brown told Mr. King that she will be living in the home of former Hardly Dangerous bandmate Athena Bass, the sister of Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222 ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.