There’s nothing worse than a deadbeat dad. Well, actually, yes, there is: the deadbeat dad of a special-needs child who is wheelchair-bound thanks to a raft of developmental issues, including cerebral palsy. Especially when the deadbeat dad is a former NFL player who apparently tried to hide his money to duck child support.
For three years, this is what Davia Bradshaw has been dealing with. The 36-year-old Broward woman has been in a legal tug of war with her ex, former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Clinton Session. Despite a Broward judge’s February judgment ordering Session to make regular support payments for the couple’s ailing daughter, Ashton, Bradshaw says her ex isn’t complying.
“What is going on with the law?” Bradshaw says. “This is justice denied. We’ve been going through this for three years.”
Session was a Pompano Beach kid who rode his gridiron exploits at Blanche Ely High School to a spot on the University of Pittsburgh’s football team. In 2007, he was picked up in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. In 2011, he inked a $30 million ($11 million guaranteed) contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But later in the season, he racked up a concussion in a game against the Cleveland Browns, ending his career.
At the time, Session and Bradshaw, a couple for four years, were expecting. In March 2012, Bradshaw gave birth to their daughter. Ashton, however, was not a healthy baby. The child was later diagnosed with agenesis of the corpus callosum, a rare brain defect, as well as cerebral palsy and encephalopathy. She’s unable to walk, nearly blind, and unable to eat normal food. Ashton needs constant therapy — thousands of dollars of care a month.
Leading up to the birth, Session’s interest in the relationship ended, Bradshaw says. According to the judgment, between April 2012 and December 2014, Session paid Bradshaw $75,100 for care. The payments, however, came in erratic bundles (and one check even bounced, court paperwork says). When Bradshaw took her ex to court to establish a routine pay schedule, Session represented himself, claiming he had no income, not even enough money to hire an attorney.
What was really happening was some financial sleight of hand. Bradshaw’s legal team subpoenaed Session’s bank records and hired a forensic accountant, which revealed that between October 2011 and November 2012, before Ashton’s birth and the developmental issues came to light, Session had handed over $5.1 million to his parents — “an attempt,” in the words of Judge Arthur Birken, “to circumvent and specifically intended to avoid paying his proper child support obligation.”
But that didn’t mean Session didn’t have access to funds. In April 2014, the former NFLer dropped $850,000 on a home in Indianapolis, forked over $34,820 for a Mercedes for his new girlfriend, gave $20,000 to a church, and spent $17,521 on a Sub-Zero refrigerator, apparently for the smoothie business, Raw Juice, that Session owns and runs in Indianapolis. “At no time did the Respondent/Father explain where, for what and whom these monies came,” the judge wrote.
Meanwhile, Bradshaw is left caring full-time for her daughter. “It’s not a situation where I can put her in daycare or school and return to work,” she says. “I have to be with my daughter 24/7.”
Ashton can’t sit up without the help of a back brace. The child needs a heavy wheelchair. Bradshaw must help the child go to the bathroom. The mother has lost two cars in three years and now can’t afford rent, relying on staying with friends and family. “We shift around from place to place,” she says. In the meantime, Session’s parents have purchased multiple properties throughout Broward.
“If this had been a normal child and we were just fighting for money, I would have thrown in the white flag a long time ago,” Bradshaw says. “But she has disabilities. No one else, not even my closest friends or family, is going to step up for her, because it’s a lot of responsibility.”
During court hearings, Session often didn’t show up or was late, according to the judgment. In February, the judge ruled that Session owes $120,256 in back child support. He’s required to make $6,900 in monthly payments, plus $2,000 a month for back child support.
Bradshaw says Session since then has paid only $1,000 each month of 2015. She has filed a motion for contempt against him, and he has filed to toss out the original judgment.
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Slowing the process considerably is Judge Birkin’s recusal in May after members of Bradshaw’s and Session’s families got into a shouting match outside the courtroom. “The conduct,” the judge wrote, “has in the Court’s mind, made it impossible to maintain neutrality.” Birkin also wrote that he was walking “with great reluctance.”
“The mother and child appear to reside in a room while the father lives in an $800,000 house that is paid in full,” the judge wrote. “The father does not appear to understand the magnitude of the child’s need.”
But the case continues. “Once you get a final judgment, that’s supposed to be the law,” says Sara Lawrence, Bradshaw’s attorney. “But then you have to try to get people to do what they’re supposed to do. It’s very frustrating. He’s playing games. The longer he waits, the worse [Ashton] is. The baby is not getting the treatment she needs.”
Reached via cell phone, Session declined to comment. “You want me to break the law and discuss a confidential case that I’m still going through?” Session said. He told New Times not to call again and hung up.