What started as a frustrated letter from daughter to father could end up culminating in a courtroom showdown.
The story of a preacher’s kid who penned a viral letter telling her dad to “go to hell” now has some major twists. From allegations that child support was covertly collected, to now the claim that a different man is potentially listed on her birth certificate to allegations that, the situation just got even more complicated.
While 33-year-old LaShonda Matlock’s viral note originally targeted Pastor Bill Adkins, her biological father, and accused him of ignoring her throughout her life, the tables are now turning.
Adkins has feverishly — and publicly – denied many of her accusations and LaShonda’s legal father, Dr. Benjamin Matlock, is now speaking out against the young woman as well.
Dr. Matlock, who is estranged from his daughter, claims that he first learned of the recent controversy when he was contacted by a friend who saw LaShonda’s story on the news. When he learned that Adkins had paid child support for the first 18 years of the woman’s life, he was stunned.
So, Dr. Matlock reached out to Memphis-based pastor to let him know that he is, in fact, LaShonda’s legal father, and that he, too, had supported her for a good portion of her life.
According to a press release TheBlaze received from Adkins’ wife, Linda, Dr. Matlock legally adopted LaShonda when she was only 9-years-old. In order for him to go through with the paperwork, he reportedly had to have a surrender of parental rights document signed by the child’s legal father at the time.
Dr. Matlock told TheBlaze that the individual who signed the child over wasn’t Adkins; it was a man named “Herman Washington.” The press release from the Adkins camp claims that Washington “apparently is listed on [LaShonda's] birth certificate.” This detail has not been independently verified, though.
If true, this would mean that Adkins was likely not the biological father. But, again, it hasn’t been substantiated and LaShonda has consistently claimed that the preacher is her birth dad.
The press release given to TheBlaze also alleges that Adkins has attempted to access LaShonda’s birth certificate, but that it is sealed and he has not been permitted to view it.
While Dr. Matlock became the child’s legal father when she was in the sixth grade, he eventually separated from his wife, identified as Ashley Dolores Baxter Washington Matlock in the press release, and the two officially ended their marriage in 2011.
TheBlaze asked Dr. Matlock about LaShonda’s birth father, but we were unable to clear up the remaining confusion over Washington and Adkins.
“It was my understanding that Herman Washington was the legal parent, but actually [her mother] had mentioned several times that Bill Adkins was the father,” he said.
Dr. Matlock also told TheBlaze that it was his understanding that LaShonda did not learn of Adkins’ potential biological connection to her until she was in the 12th grade, shortly before the debutante ball that she referenced in her original letter to the preacher.
“She didn’t know that man from John Doe,” he added.
If true, this would call into question many of her claims in the letter, which seemed to indicate that she knew of her father throughout her childhood and suffered at a young age as a result of not having a relationship with him.
“As the person who adopted that girl, I am her father, period,” Dr. Matlock insisted in his interview with TheBlaze. “I took on all the responsibilities and Herman Washington signed the documents for me to adopt her. And in fact, she was LaShonda Washington.”
As for the child support, Dr. Matlock was particularly surprised at Adkins’ long-standing monetary commitment, because, according to the press release, he, too, had supported LaShonda. After his separation from her mother in 1997, Dr. Matlock allegedly gave a portion of his pension to the young girl.
“When Dr. Matlock heard from Whiteside’s televised story that Adkins had paid child support to Lashonda for 18 years, he expressed shock because he said he had been told by Lashonda’s mother that she had released Adkins through Juvenile Court from paying any more future child support payments,” the release claims. “This never happened because Adkins continued paying child support throughout Lashonda’s senior year of high school while she was the legal daughter, not stepdaughter, of Dr. Matlock.”
In an e-mail to TheBlaze, Matlock said earlier this week that Adkins had given $250 per month in child support. She did not mention any other child support.
Matlock believes his ex-wife was hiding Adkins’ child support money and said he was never aware of it until hearing about it in media this week.
TheBlaze reached out to LaShonda with specific questions. In response, she provided the following statement:
Dr. Matlock married my mother and adopted me in 1991 and were legally separated in 1997. Stating that Bill Adkins is my biological father and therefore no stepfather or adoptive father is a substitute for one’s true father. I have no knowledge of child support from Dr. Matlock but if there is an issue regarding that, than I sincerely hope Dr. Matlock will take appropriate actions. No man should pay for a child this is not biologically his.
My article is based on my feelings towards my biological father Bill Adkins. Dr. Matlock has the right to contribute, but the article was not about him.
The mystery continues as does the search for answers.
“Of course, this is a shock to me, but I did what I thought I was supposed to do,” Adkins said in the release. “I financially supported Lashonda until she was grown. Anything else will have to be resolved in the courts.”
A message has been left for additional comment from the pastor.
Dr. Matlock told TheBlaze that he received a voicemail on Wednesday from LaShonda threatening possible legal action unless he retracted some statements he purportedly made to media. He denied making the comments she decried and told TheBlaze that he is speaking, because he disagrees with the character assassinations purportedly taking place against Adkins.
Update: TheBlaze spoke with Atkins, who confirmed the details of this story. He said he has, to date, not spoken to LaShonda since the story broke, but still considers her his daughter. When asked if there’s any possibility that he may not be her biological father, he said it’s plausible — but seemed to indicate such a situation would be remote.