By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
He seemed sensitive, she says, like he really cared about her. And he was fun. She remembers that one time he showed her a small silver disc and told her it was the future of music. It was the first time she'd ever seen a compact disk. Sanders says she felt as if she were tapping into an adult world her classmates couldn't know.
And she says she knew she wanted to be with Eggelletion forever.
"After our first encounter sexually, I knew I wanted to be with him," Sanders says. "I couldn't wait until I turned 18, when my parents couldn't tell me what to do. I thought we could move away together."
She says that Eggelletion, who had been named Father of the Year, told her repeatedly that he didn't love his wife, and she admits that the fact that he was married was never a major consideration for her.
Until Carolyn Eggelletion made it one.
She says that Eggelletion's wife learned of the affair from their phone conversations. And she not only demanded that her husband stop seeing the girl but also called Sanders' parents and told them about it.
Any belief that their eldest daughter was perfect was certainly crushed at that moment.
"My parents were so devastated," Sanders says. "My mom told me she didn't want me to end up with five or six kids with no husband and on welfare. I told them I would stop seeing him."
Several tortuous days passed, each testing her will to stay away from the teacher. Then one night, she picked up the phone and Eggelletion was on the line.
"Can you talk?"
Yes, she told him.
"I can't do it," she remembers him saying. "I can't stay away from you. I love you."
It was the first time he told her he loved her, she says. And they started their secret affair again. Her parents were warier this time, though, and stricter. At one point, she ran away from home for two weeks to stay with a friend so she could more easily see Eggelletion.
She says it slowly dawned on her that he wasn't going to leave his wife, but she kept seeing him anyway, taking it for what it was worth. When she was 21, she met an Army man named Delmus Lockhart, married him, and moved to Georgia.
"Part of me thinks I got married just to get out of Broward and away from Joe," she says.
The marriage, however, had its problems, one being her continued involvement with Eggelletion. Sanders would visit home at least once a month and would occasionally see her former teacher while in Broward.
One of those occasions fell in February 1987, when Sanders was 24 and her husband had been stationed in Germany. Four weeks after she saw Eggelletion, she learned she was pregnant. She called Joe.
"I just came from the doctor," she told him. "I'm pregnant."
"Is it mine?" she remembers him asking.
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to have my baby."
She says she hated Eggelletion at that moment but decided that she would protect him anyway. Her marriage was on the rocks, but he was still a schoolteacher, still married with kids, still dreaming of taking political office. She would have her son and make do on her own. She wouldn't mess up his life.
Omar was born on October 25, 1987. Sanders called Eggelletion a couple of days later and told him his son's name and how much he weighed. She says he came to visit shortly thereafter. She says Eggelletion looked at Omar, smiled, and said, "He looks just like me."
It was true — the boy bore a striking resemblance to the schoolteacher. But other than a few chance encounters, Eggelletion wouldn't see his son again for about 16 years.
Shortly after the baby's birth, she briefly got back together with Lockhart. He believed Omar was his son conceived on a visit from Sanders to Germany. Sanders didn't dissuade him from believing it either. But their marriage didn't get any better, and during an argument, she told her husband that Omar, who looked nothing like Lockhart, wasn't his child. She remembers that he took it in stride.
"Well, I'll feed him until he looks like me," said the 240-pound Lockhart.
It was Lockhart who filed for divorce. Sanders signed a decree stating that Lockhart was the father, and he was ordered to pay $300-a-month child support. He didn't fight the order, but he never paid a dime. He was jailed a couple of times for failing to pay. But Lockhart, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, says he remains friends with Sanders.
Sanders, meanwhile, quickly married her current husband, Mark Sanders, and they had a son of their own. Shortly after Omar's 16th birthday, Sanders decided to ask for Eggelletion's help.
"My whole life changed; I was going to church a lot," she explains. "In order for me to go forward with my faith, I had to become truthful with this situation. And I did it."
She called Eggelletion, reminded him that he had done nothing for his son, and asked him if he would help put Omar through college.