Bieber daddy
// JJ Brewis

For 17-year-old pop music heartthrob Justin Bieber, it seemed nothing could hold him down. Quite literally a rags-toriches story, Bieber captivated the world by becoming an A-lister overnight, selling millions of albums and starring in a major motion picture as himself. Bieber has it all, including a massive fanbase loving his every step, a celebrity romance with teen pop star Selena Gomez, and accolades untouched by some long-term music industry moguls.

It’s going to take a lot to pull someone of his status down, and when that does happen, the media circus and PR junket runs the gamete of saving face. The public has shown that they’re far more willing to take a celebrity’s word over the word of an unknown person. Although the public does not actually have a personal relationship with Bieber, a recent scandal has shown the public going to bat on his behalf, largely due to his role as a celebrity, and the power of his team working through the case.

Justin’s integrity has recently been pulled into question. With a nasty paternity suit thrown in his face, Bieber and his team are up against what is arguably their first major hurdle in his career. His squeaky clean image is now being questioned, facing this news that has startled his fans, and Bieber and his publicity team are left at a standstill with a woman claiming that Bieber has fathered her child. With no concise evidence being presented, it’s essentially a verbal standoff with a virtually unknown woman pitted against the biggest star on the planet, backed by a massive marketing team. The public has a natural favourite here, adding fuel to the fire for Bieber to come out on top in this, his first legal battle.

This October, 20-year-old Mariah Yeater of Los Angeles came forward with allegations that Bieber was the father of her child, declaring a testimony that presents the “facts” in a way that coincides with her proposed timeline of events. Yeater’s claim states that the two met backstage at one of his LA concerts in October 2010, and that after some flirting occurred, Bieber asked her for some personal time. Then, she says, the then-16-year-old Bieber and 19-year-old Yeater had intercourse for roughly 30 seconds in a Staples Center washroom. Nine months later, Yeater gave birth to a child, and now she’s asking Bieber to pay up for child support and some expenses she accrued surrounding the pregnancy.

According to Yeater’s lawyers, she isn’t seeking “fame or fortunes”, just child support. But naturally, since the news was presented, Yeater has been all over the media, including a video interview on celebrity news program The Insider.

Yeater says she has no doubt the child is Justin Bieber’s. However, after the allegations were raised, another individual came forward with some news that could turn this whole situation on its head. The grandmother of 18-yearold John Terranova, Yeater’s former boyfriend, revealed that long before Yeater pinned Bieber as the father, she had come to Terranova, claiming he was the child’s father, and asked him to pay up. When asked by The Insider about these claims, Yeater replied she had “no comment”. Throughout the entire interview, Yeater repeatedly refused to answer questions, and often stood up and left the taping, crying at the drop of a hat. This type of response to hard-hitting questions isolates Yeater as someone scrambling at what her true story is.
With as much money and fame as he has, Bieber has the opportunity to come off cool and collected, regardless of what the actual truth of the matter is. He came forth on The Today Show, publically addressing the subject at hand.

“I know that I’m going to be a target, but I’m never going to be a victim,” he told the live audience, followed by an enormous squeal of approval by his fans. Bieber, under these events, has certainly been groomed and prepped for the camera; his management has hired a crisis management team to help in diffusing the situation.

Matthew Hiltzik, a representative for Bieber, has claimed that not only will he take the paternity test, but he will also file a counter-suit against Yeater once the tests come back negative. Counteracting Yeater’s erratic seeming behaviour, Bieber looks cool and “honest”, whereas Yeater is making herself look even guiltier. Yeater is undoubtedly in the line of fire.

The reactions from Bieber’s massive fan base towards her have, not surprisingly, been unpleasant. Several death threats have been sent to Yeater from the “beliebers”, leaving Yeater terrified, as she told The Insider. At this point, based on a fairly weak case and an unconvincing performance on television, Yeater is not looking very honest, but only time will tell whether her case holds any clout.

Interestingly, Bieber hasn’t been quiet on his end either. Generally when a celebrity is under fire, they undergo a “duck and cover” method, but Bieber is using his Twitter and recent press appearances to respond to the situation. He has been upfront about the situation and is thus further adding credit to his side of the story: he says he has nothing to hide, and is being completely available in the fact of the claims.

Additionally, given that the incident in question is said to have occurred in the state of California, the Los Angeles Police Department may get involved if the claims are in fact true. As Bieber was 16 years old at the time in question, he was under the legal age of consent, which is 18 in California. When The Insider asked Yeater about the fact that she may be charged with a misdemeanour, she said she has “concerns, definitely yeah, especially when he came onto me.”

Yet Bieber claims that the entire thing is a scam, and he’s “never met the woman” responsible for the claims.

The two stories conflict completely, and something has to give. While Yeater says she has “nothing to hide”, Bieber's denial of the claims seems plausible. His management insists that due to the insane crowds following his shows, he literally moves from the stage to the bus ride post-performance. Yeater has no definitive proof of her story, and due to her role as a non-celebrity, her word is viewed as less legitimate than Bieber’s. Bieber has an entire team backing him, and his role in the media as a recognizable figure with no previous record of bad behaviour makes the public more likely to take his side.

The public only felt further justified in their side-taking when last week it was revealed that Yeater had sent text messages to a friend asking them to cover up evidence that a third gentleman was actually her baby’s father. After the friend released this information to the press, it was only a day before Yeater’s lawyers announced the claim was now going to “settle out of court,” but in light of the evidence regarding the texts, it is clear Yeater has been telling some lies. There are already dozens of articles circulating about Yeater’s need for a psychiatric examination. Nobody has any concrete evidence that she has any mental issues, but given that she has taken aim at someone as well-loved as Bieber, she is a natural enemy for millions. Naturally, the response is going to take an even harder comeback than she dished out in the first place.

Yeater’s team say that they may re-open the file at “any time” and in the end, the paternity test is going to be carefully guarded, as the results will be the tell-all. If Bieber is proven to be the father of this child, he will look like a liar to all his fans, and have to scramble for a new story in order to explain himself. But if the tests come back negative, Yeater will be up against the LAPD on statutory rape charges, in addition to suffering from a counter-suit from Bieber’s team – and Bieber will walk free.

Really, it’s more of a lose-lose for Mariah Yeater than anyone. Sending out the allegations was one thing, but perhaps she didn’t consider the consequences of her actions before pursuing legal action. Yeater, as the underdog in the situation, was destined to fall apart in the light of her likely untrue claims against a teen mogul with a huge business backing him. If she had thought about possible repercussions, she may not have continued with her claim. As she told The Insider, even before the text message scandal came forward, “I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, really. This is a lot.”

// JJ Brewis, Columnist
// Illustration by JJ Brewis

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com