(KMOV.com) - A former St. Louis sports star is facing jail time because he's far behind in child support.
Two mothers told News 4 the system is failing them.
Child support can be a controversial topic and there are both dads and moms who don't pay, but two mothers say a person like former Cardinals player Ray Lankford should be setting a better example.
One of those mothers has gone to the courts to get him to pay. A judge ordered him in contempt, meaning he could go to jail. She didn't want to go on camera, but another mother of Ray Lankford's child did. She just wants him to do the right thing.
“He is very athletic, he loves science, he loves math,” said Lisa Rose of her son, Ian Rose.
The 12-year-old is already exhibiting some of his father's traits. Lisa says Ian would rather be a great basketball player, than hit the baseball field like his dad Ray Lankford.
Lankford played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1990's and early 2000's and was known for speed and his power. To St. Louis sports fans, he was a star; for Lisa, it was just love.
“We met when I was a junior in college. He became the love of my life basically,” Rose said.
Eleven years after they met, Ian came along, but things were far from perfect.
In 2004, Lisa was charged with assault over an incident at Lankford’s house in St. Louis County, a charge, she says, later dropped to a misdemeanor
In the years since, she's lived and worked in Los Angeles and has been raising Ian. Lankford did make support payments, but Lisa says that hasn't been the case in quite some time now.
“I have two master's degrees so I don't need it, but that's what he's been court ordered to pay, as you can clearly see,” Rose said.
Documents from the state of Missouri show that Lankford owes Lisa more than $26,000 in child support. He hasn't made a single payment in over a year.
"It's not that he owes me, he owes that to his child," Rose said.
However, Lankford isn't facing jail time in her case instead, it's in another case.
News 4 also obtained documents showing that Lankford owes another mother more than $18,000. She declined to talk on camera and asked not to be identified in this story.
In August, a judge got so fed up with Lankford’s lack of payment in her case that Lankford was found in contempt of court and sentenced to imprisonment in the St. Louis County Justice Center until he pays.
According to court documents, Lankford lives outside of Orlando, Florida in a home that he bought for more than $500,000 in 2012. Lankford has a website offering speaking engagements for upwards of $10.000 Lankford isn't behind bars and News 4 is aware of only one payment made in the last 13 months. None of those payments have been made since he's been sentenced to jail. He could avoid jail time, if he pays up.
Lisa says she wanted to speak up now, not just for her own child, but because of a system, she says, that's failing.
“Because men who are not doing what they are supposed to do for their children, you can't sit back and say okay,” she said.
Lisa’s certainly not alone.
As of September 2015, of the more than 300,000 child support cases in the state of Missouri, 76 percent are behind on payments.
Parents are owed nearly $2.5 billion.
News 4 spoke with family law lawyer Susan Hais. The problem, she says, is that some people learn how to dodge the system.
“If he doesn't get picked up, it could linger on like this for years,” Hais said.
Even with possible time in jail, it can be challenging to force parents to pay up.
“It's a very sad situation, that's why I think we should do everything we can to make sure people follow the rules and follow the laws and pay their child support,” Hais said.
News 4 made multiple requests to speak with Lankford through his agent, calling and sending emails, but never heard back from Lankford.
Lisa says she has no desire to see Lankford in jail, she simply wants Lankford to pay what's owed.
"He needs to step up to the plate,” Rose said.
Often the only way to pick up a person who is behind on child support and put them in jail until they pay is for them to come back to the state and maybe get pulled over for a traffic violation. Otherwise it can require an aggressive lawyer or team of lawyers to collect what's owed. However, that responsibility falls on the parent who already isn't getting the money they need
News 4 later received a call from a woman who said she was Lankford’s wife. She claims Lankford has already paid Lisa Rose more than #100,000, but declined to comment further about the outstanding payments or Lankford's jail sentence before hanging up the phone.
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