Homosexual minister who left family battles child support, seeks estate

DALLAS (BP)--A legal battle has erupted between a homosexual minister who has claimed he has amnesia and the wife and daughter who were left behind in 1984.

The homosexual minister, James Simmons, has balked at paying back child support, an attorney for his former wife, Beth Cox, told the Abilene Reporter-News.

Simmons, after child support proceedings began against him, filed court papers to have his death certificate reversed and his estate returned to him.

If Simmons is able to regain his estate, Beth Cox said she will face "total bankruptcy," the Abilene paper reported April 17. After her husband, who grew up as Wesley Barrett "Barre" Cox, was declared legally dead in 1991, she received part of the proceeds of the sale of a ranch in the Texas Panhandle owned by the Cox family, the Reporter-News recounted. Prior to the sale, she had received lease payments on part of the ranch.

The money she received has been spent in raising their child, Cox, who never remarried after her husband's disappearance in rural Texas, told the newspaper.

Barre Cox was identified in December 2000 as James Simmons after he preached a trial sermon at a predominantly homosexual church in Dallas. Simmons had just left Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., where he had been campus housing director and had earned two degrees. Officials at the seminary said Simmons never indicated he is a homosexual during his 1990-2000 stay at the seminary.

The Abilene newspaper reported that a hearing for Beth Cox's case for back child support is slated June 7 in Dallas.

Simmons' legal action, meanwhile, filed in Gray County, Texas, in addition to seeking to nullify his death certificate and reclaim his estate, also asks that he receive any profits since accrued by his estate, according to the Reporter-News.

On April 1, the Dallas Morning News reported that Cox, who has started a homosexual-oriented church in Garland, Texas, is under the care of a neuropsychologist and beginning to recall "bits and pieces," as he put it, about his former life.

Beth Cox, who now lives in Franklin, Tenn., had believed her husband to be dead after his mysterious disappearance on July 12, 1984. At that time he was a youth minister at MacArthur Park Church of Christ in San Antonio and was working on a doctoral degree in art at Texas Tech University. After finishing a summer class on the Lubbock campus, he was on his way home when his car was found abandoned and ransacked on a rural road outside Abilene. Cox's daughter, Talitha, was six months old at the time of his disappearance.

Cox has told of being beaten to unconsciousness in 1984 and found in the truck of a car in a junkyard. He said he awoke from a coma with amnesia in a Memphis, Tenn., hospital. Police officials there have no record of Simmons' account. He said he chose his last name after moving to Virginia, but the name, birthdate and Social Security number he was using happen to be those of a Texas rancher.

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