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Housemate Questions Motives of Surrogate

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Anna L. Johnson, who has drawn national publicity by suing to keep the unborn child she is carrying for another couple, is being opposed in her efforts, not just by the couple, but also by her housemate.

Sara Duran, who has shared her home with Johnson since April, said in an interview Wednesday that she has been so troubled by Johnson’s effort to keep the baby that in the last week or two, she decided to come to the aid of the genetic parents and supplied information to their lawyer.

And when the surrogate checked into UCI Medical Center Friday night with premature contractions, Duran confirmed that it was she who telephoned the lawyers, worried that Johnson might deliver the baby and take it away.

Johnson’s lawyer, Richard C. Gilbert, declined to make Johnson available for an interview. But he rejected the housemate’s comments as groundless. Duran is “a person with a lot of unfortunate misunderstandings,” he said.

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“What does Sara know about a very complicated pregnancy and how that could make someone feel?” he said.

Gilbert rejected Duran’s allegation that Johnson sought to have the baby early, saying her medical records show that she checked into the hospital several times “to stop labor, not to keep it going.” The baby is due in October.

Duran, 45, said in the interview that Johnson “kept saying she didn’t care about the baby, that she just wanted to get it over with. She would say, ‘I just want my money.’ ”

And Duran said she is disturbed by Johnson’s response to the publicity generated by the lawsuit she filed against Mark and Crispina Calvert on Aug. 13, which has since been the subject of national news reports and has spilled before the cameras of the “Geraldo” show, “Inside Edition,” a CNN talk show and all the local news shows.

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“She was walking around the house going, ‘Oh, everyone wants to talk to me, I’m famous,’ ” Duran said. “But she doesn’t care for that baby. I think all she wants is the money and being famous. She wants sympathy. She wants to be No. 1, the main attraction.”

It was during taping of Geraldo Rivera’s show this week that the housemate’s role was first mentioned publicly.

Duran, a widowed mother of two grown children, said she met Johnson and her 3-year-old daughter last Halloween, when they came trick-or-treating at her house. Duran, a factory worker, had been renting a home in the neighborhood for 10 years but was considering taking in a housemate because she needed help with the $700-a-month rent, she said. Johnson was fed up with the noise and gang-fighting in her nearby apartment complex, Duran said.

Johnson and her daughter moved in with Duran in April. Sympathetic because Johnson was pregnant, Duran said she requested no references.

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“I thought she was like a guardian angel, that she was going to help me out,” Duran said. “But everything backfired.”

The two roommates got along fine for a while, Duran said. Duran occasionally baby-sat for Johnson’s daughter or picked her up from day care if Johnson was at work, she said. But things went downhill when Johnson grew “tired of being pregnant,” Duran said.

When Duran asked Johnson how she could consider keeping the baby in light of the contract she had signed and the fact that the baby was not hers genetically, she said Johnson replied: “Everybody can change their mind.”

Duran said she is receiving no money from the Calverts for her help.

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“I’m doing it because that baby belongs to the parents (the Calverts),” she said. “It’s not hers. A deal’s a deal. And what she is doing is not right.”

But Gilbert said Johnson is doing what any mother would do for the baby she bears--make sure it has a good home and a loving parent.


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