Today in Court: A Priest, a Stripper, and a Custody Battle

Fidgeting in his gray suit coat, disgraced priest David Dueppen told a judge this morning he wants custody of his 1-year-old daughter. He claims the baby's mother -- a former Porky's stripper named Beatrice Hernandez -- has a criminal record and "ambushed" him using the media. Now, he says, she won't let him see his kid.

"We all know he violated his vow of celibacy, but we don't want that to be the focus of this case," says his lawyer, Ray Rafool. "My client is desperate to see his child."

Hernandez sat on the left side of the courtroom, legs crossed, with no lawyer. When family court judge Bernard S. Shapiro suggested she take notes, she explained she is illiterate.

Later -- under oath and in vivid detail -- she contended Dueppen had molested the then-6-month-old while he changed her diaper. "When I walked in, he got paranoid," she said, adding he's a danger to the child.

In October, Hernandez filed a restraining order alleging Dueppen had strangled her. He began "grabbing her by the throat and choking her'' during a fight over child support, the document states. Dueppen was a middle school teacher who became a priest ten years ago. Now booted from his Miami Beach church, he works as a security guard.

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Natalie O'Neill
Contact: Natalie O'Neill