After TMZ reported that Yeater had been dropped by the attorneys representing her and that they had withdrawn the claim last week, Chicago attorney Jeffrey Leving told MTV News that the suit is, technically, off but that negotiations are happening behind-the-scenes for a settlement.
"We are still pursuing a DNA test and ... if it's positive, our desire for child support is still active," said Leving, who confirmed that a motion to dismiss the paternity action was filed November 9 in San Diego. "We could refile the paternity case tomorrow if we wanted, but we are attempting to settle the case out of court."
Leving said his office is in negotiations with Bieber's attorney in the case, Los Angeles-based Howard Weitzman, to settle the matter. Weitzman could not be reached for comment at press time.
Leving said he was legally barred from commenting on his decision to withdraw the petition but described it as part of a strategy to negotiate a confidentiality agreement and child-support payments as part of an out-of-court settlement. He said his co-counsel in California had been in touch with Weitzman and that he has also brought on a detective to investigate what he claimed were death threats against Yeater.
Though he is now directing the case, Leving said he has been involved from the beginning but did not participate in the decision by Yeater's two former San Diego attorneys to file the paternity suit. He has also barred Yeater from doing any further media appearances or interviews. "She's a 20-year-old single mom with no money and no job trying to raise an infant, and she's being harassed and stalked," he said.
Last week, Bieber's camp confirmed that the 17-year-old singer would take a paternity test as soon as he returns from a European promotional jaunt in celebration of his just-released Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe.
Bieber's team vigorously denied the claim from the moment Yeater launched the paternity action earlier this month. Yeater claimed in a signed affidavit in the suit that she had unprotected sex with Bieber last October in a backstage area at one of the singer's concerts at Los Angeles' Staples Center and that her 4-month-old baby is his.
On Wednesday, Bieber's spokesperson once again maintained the pop star's innocence when asked to respond to reports that the suit had been dropped. "As we've said from the beginning, it's sad that someone would fabricate such a malicious, defamatory, and demonstrably false claim," Matthew Hiltzik said in a statement. "We'll continue to consider all of our options to protect Justin."
Asked to respond to suggestions that the withdrawal of the paternity suit appeared to weaken Yeater's claim, Leving said he felt just the opposite was true. "The case is stronger now because we can negotiate outside of court," he said. "I believe her. I believe she had sexual intercourse with him and I do believe he is the father of the child."
Because Leving is pursuing a nondisclosure agreement, he said, ideally, nobody will know the results of the DNA test either way. "If it's negative, we'll deal with it. If it's positive, we'll deal with it when that happens," he said. "But hopefully whether it's positive or negative, nobody will know."