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Billionaire takes new legal tack regarding child

Kirk Kerkorian seeks to lift an order preventing the girl's biological father from seeing her.

August 09, 2007|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who years ago made headlines when he agreed to accept joint legal custody of a little girl who was not his daughter, is paving the way for her to meet and bond with her biological father, Hollywood producer Steve Bing.

It's the latest turn in a case that has played out for tabloid readers as well as Wall Street watchers: It started in 2002, when Kerkorian's ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, 42, sued for $320,000 a month in child support for her daughter, Kira. If that sum alone wasn't enough to gain media attention, there was plenty more: Kerkorian fired back, accusing his ex of duping him into believing that the girl was his -- even going so far as to fake a DNA test.

When Kerkorian, 90, later learned that Bing might be the biological father, he reportedly had his security guard fish dental floss out of Bing's garbage can in an attempt to retrieve DNA evidence to bolster his suspicions.

New court documents outline Bing's long-standing desire to see Kira, who lives on the East Coast with her mother, and have a meaningful relationship with her, but they say that restraining orders have been an obstacle to that goal. Kerkorian's attorneys filed papers Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking to lift the order: The girl is now 9 and thus "much more mature and better able to understand that Bing is her biological father and that he desires a meaningful relationship with her," according to the documents.

Bing's attorney, Robert Kaufman, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday. Bing, 42, was also famously involved in a second paternity case: He sued actress Elizabeth Hurley to force a DNA test after she said he was the father of her child. (The test, in 2002, proved positive.)

Although steps are being taken toward a meeting between Bing and his daughter, court records suggest that there are still financial issues to be sorted out.

In a letter to Kaufman dated July 7, Kerkorian's current attorney, Wendy A. Herzog, stated that "Bing has known that Kira is his daughter since 2000, even before the DNA test in 2002 reconfirmed this fact." The letter goes on to state that Kerkorian and Bing had discussed Bing's financial responsibility for the girl if it was determined that Kira was his biological daughter and that Bing repeatedly stated "that if it was shown that Kira was his daughter, he wanted to be involved with Kira and take some financial responsibility."

But despite such statements, Herzog said in her letter, Bing "has never done anything to become a father to this child, either emotionally or financially. Meanwhile, Mr. Kerkorian has never shirked from providing financial support for Kira, despite having been defrauded into believing Kira was his biological daughter."

According to Herzog's letter, Bing agreed in 2003 to contribute $25,000 a month to Kira's support, "but yet again Mr. Bing reneged on his assurances. He never provided the support to which he agreed or attempted to have a meaningful relationship with Kira."

The letter contends that Kerkorian has made other attempts over the years to get Bing involved in the girl's life. "The result? Absolutely nothing. After all of our efforts, when push really came to shove, Mr. Bing backed out yet again."

It was Bonder Kerkorian who in 2002 asked the court to grant the restraining order preventing all sides from discussing Bing with Kira or introducing the child to Bing. But even back then, the court papers state, Kira knew she had "two papas" and that her other "papa" was Bing.

Kerkorian is also asking the court to appoint a mental health professional to assist in integrating Bing into Kira's life. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16.

robert.welkos@latimes.com

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