A single man so eager for a family he paid a surrogate mother $30,000 to bear his child was charged Wednesday with beating his 5-week-old son to death.
James Alan Austin told police he had beaten the boy with his fists and a plastic coat hanger, authorities said.
The 26-year-old bank analyst from the Bethlehem area was arraigned on charges of criminal homicide in the death of Jonathan Alan Austin. Bail was set at $500,000.
Jonathan was born Dec. 8 to Phyllis Ann Huddleston, 29, of Lafayette, Ind., who had been paid to be artificially inseminated with Austin’s sperm.
The boy died Tuesday at a Philadelphia hospital, more than a week after he was taken to a hospital in the Bethlehem area, unconscious with a fractured skull and internal bleeding.
Austin, an only child whose father had died at an early age, lived with his mother until she died after a long bout with cancer in 1993, said his lawyer, John Waldron. Since then, he had been living alone with his dog.
He used money inherited his mother to pay the Infertility Center of American in Indianapolis, which arranged the surrogate agreement.
Waldron complained that the Infertility Center never taught Austin how to be a parent.
And Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, questioned the reasoning behind awarding a surrogate child to someone like Austin.
“I think making surrogates available to 26-year-old fertile men is crazy,” Caplan said. “I think what they might need is to be pointed towards the personal ads or a dating service.”
Officials of the center did not return calls for comment.
The center was founded by lawyer Noel P. Keane, who has arranged hundreds of surrogate births, including the “Baby M” case in New Jersey, in which Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to be a surrogate mother, then refused to give up the baby.
Huddleston, who had come to Philadelphia to be by her son’s side after learning of the beating, had returned home and was making funeral arrangements, according to her lawyer, Jane E. Lessner,