For the last three years, Davia Bradshaw has fought to force her ex, former NFL linebacker Clinton Session, to pay child support on time and in full. Bradshaw and Session have a severely disabled, special-needs three-year-old daughter for whom Bradshaw cares in Pompano Beach.
Bradshaw says that because of financial difficulties, she has lost her apartment and struggles to pay for her daughter's treatment and care. Meanwhile, Session claims he can't afford the nearly $7,000 monthly child support, even though he received $9.8 million in 2011 and 2012 playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars, purchased a home in Indianapolis for $850,000, bought his girlfriend a Mercedes Benz, and recently took a vacation to the Dominican Republic.
Session owes Bradshaw $381,912.63 in back child support. On April 28, a Broward judge signed an order giving the athlete ten days to pay or be considered in civil contempt of court. By May 7, Session still had not paid and the judge ordered his arrest. Session faces as much as six months in jail until he pays the amount.
A Broward Sheriff's Office spokesperson confirmed that the arrest order is still active. Session, who currently resides in Indianapolis, has hired new counsel, Fort Lauderdale attorney Gordon Brydger, who specializes in divorce and family law. On May 18, Brydger filed a notice to appeal the judge's ruling.
"Clinton is very distressed and the publicity isn't helping," Brydger tells New Times. "We're appealing that order. [The judge] didn't make a finding of Clinton's present ability to pay. And the law says you can't be held in contempt or issue an arrest warrant for failure to purge an amount."
Davia Bradshaw's attorney, Sara Lawrence, tells New Times that she is disappointed that police have not enforced the warrant. Lawrence says that she even sent a copy of it to Indianapolis law enforcement. (A message left with the Marion County civil warrant division in Indianapolis was not returned. Hamilton County jail just outside Indianapolis did not have any record of the warrant.)
"We're in a stalemate; the system has issued the warrant and they're not doing anything about it," Lawrence says. "He says he has no money but he spends so much on attorneys. He'd rather give it to Gordon Brydger than Ashton Session — his own daughter."
Meanwhile, Ashton suffers. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is wheelchair-bound, can’t sit up without a back brace, can't go to the bathroom by herself, and is nearly blind. Bradshaw reports that Session has provided about $1,000 to $1,500 a month in the past year for the girl's care, but says that’s barely enough to cover their daughter's special diet. Bradshaw says there have been times when she didn’t have enough money to afford tests or treatment that Ashton needed.
Bradshaw's attorney, Lawrence, agreed to take Bradshaw's case because she can relate to her struggle. "I care for a handicapped son, too," Lawrence says. "Ashton needs this money desperately. A thousand a month doesn't even cover her daycare. He's trying to starve us out."
Session's attorneys have claimed that the football star has no access to the money. Sometime 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 intend to avoid paying his proper child support obligation.”
But Bradshaw and her attorney claim that Session still has access to the those funds. In April 2014, Session spent $850,000 on an Indianapolis home, $34,820 for a Mercedes, $20,000 to a church, and $17,521 on a Sub-Zero refrigerator (apparently for his juice business). In December 2014, Session was ordered to pay $6,900 a month, plus an extra $2,000 a month for back child support. Session is now appealing that ruling, maintaining that he wasn’t in court to defend himself because he was sick.
"It's like a house of cards," Brydger says. "One mistake is built on another and now it's very burdensome. We're trying to correct it, and we're hopeful that we will."
He adds: "Mr. Session is not totally disabled but he certainly has a disability. He has suffered multiple concussions throughout his employment with the NFL and he's tying to do the best he can to get on with his life and take care of his daughter the best he can."
This past December, a YouTube video showed Session giving away 100 children's bikes in Pompano Beach.
Bradshaw was especially saddened to hear about the bikes, since she says Session didn't give Ashton a present for Christmas. Bradshaw says the first thing that she will do when she receives the past due child support is buy Ashton a hyperbaric chamber, which Ashton desperately needs, and start her on intensive therapy. “It’s all long overdue,” Bradshaw says. “She needs a new wheelchair, too.”
"After all these years, all we want is for him to do the right thing," Lawrence sighs.
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.