Dickerson Calls Paternity Suit an Attempt to Cash In on His Fame and Wealth

Times Staff Writer

Eric Dickerson said Tuesday that a paternity suit filed against him by Rea Ann Silva, his former girlfriend, was the act of a woman seeking to cash in on the Ram running back’s fame and wealth.

“This has happened to a lot of men with money,” said Dickerson, speaking publicly for the first time on the suit. “It’s happened with Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy, Mick Jagger. I don’t know why women use this to trap a man. If I was a woman, I wouldn’t want to get pregnant just to get a man.

“This is the way to get back at me, to have a baby and then use the press against me. But in two weeks, no one will care who Rea Ann Silva is.”


Dickerson also said that he is willing to assume all responsibility for the couple’s unborn child if he judged to be the father.

Silva, 25, filed the suit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court and is seeking $7,500 in monthly support for medical expenses from Dickerson.

Silva, who is expecting her baby in November, said Monday that since breaking off their engagement a month ago, Dickerson has refused to pay her doctor bills. She also claimed that Dickerson entered her North Hollywood home June 2, pointed a pistol at her head and then chased Silva down the street. She also said that Dickerson left a threatening message on her answering machine.

Dickerson presented a quite different version of their relationship.

He said he had indeed been dating Silva for almost two years and that the relationship was at one time serious. But he denies that they were ever engaged, even though he referred to Silva as his “fiancee” on a May 25 taping of the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Dickerson said he gave Silva a ring after she became pregnant last March.

“But it was just a ring,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about marriage. She was not the woman of my life. I never proposed to her. Not once. The reason I said it (on television) was because she (Silva) was there and she was pregnant. I did it to save face. When I said it, I wished I could have backed the tape up and run it over. She (Winfrey) asked me the question. I felt trapped by it. I could have just died.”

But what disturbs Dickerson even more are allegations that he threatened Silva at gunpoint.


“I can’t believe all the lies, that I pulled out a gun and threatened to kill her, that I chased her down the street,” he said. “I feel if I chased a woman I could catch her. Who is she, Jesse Owens?”

Dickerson said that their relationship had already deteriorated when he went to Silva’s home on June 2. He said he went there to retrieve a car he had lent Silva and to collect some of his belongings. He was accompanyed by his brother Leo, longtime friend Charlie Drayton and Ram rookie Daryl Henry.

Dickerson said he spent no more than 10 minutes at the residence. He said he had kept a gun at Silva’s house because the neighborhood was rough and that his car had once been burglarized.

“I went in to get my items and I got my gun out of the drawer,” Dickerson said. “We started arguing. But the gun was wrapped up in clothes. I had all this stuff in my arms. How could I cock a gun?”

Silva notified the police of the incident on June 8, six days later. The police department investigated the case and presented evidence to the district attorney’s office, which decided not to proceed. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said Tuesday that an investigation into criminal assault charges had been dismissed.

“The police called me, asked a few questions and the case was dropped,” Dickerson said.

He is worried, however, that the publicity generated by the suit will damage his image. Dickerson has been actively involved in a nationwide anti-drug campaign and locally has coordinated a youth group know as Dickerson’s Rangers.


“It doesn’t help me it all,” Dickerson said of Silva’s allegations.

Although Silva contends that the couple planned parenthood, Dickerson says that she purposely became pregnant by discontinuing the use of birth control.

“I’ve always been a careful guy,” he said, in reference to screening the women he dates. “I’ve always been leery. This time I wasn’t careful enough. It’s very hard to find women you can trust. A lot of them are looking for free handouts. You just don’t know. But at one point I did trust her.”

Dickerson said he is ready to take responsibility for the child.

“If I find out it’s mine, it would be no problem,” he said. “A child of mine will be taken care of. But she said we planned the pregnancy, but a planned pregnancy to me is when you’re married. This was a trap, just another one of those stories of a woman looking for money.”