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Court dismisses suit by Tampa man who claims William Shatner is his father

Peter Sloan believes he is the son of William Shatner from a one night stand his mother had with the actor. Shatner denies it. [Times archives]
Published Jun. 25, 2018

Peter Sloan has long hoped William Shatner would steal a line from Star Trek's science fiction counterpart Star Wars and publicly say, "I am your father."

For decades, Sloan, a 61-year-old resident of Tampa, has claimed he is Shatner's illegitimate son and that the Star Trek actor is aware of their blood tie.

Shatner, who has three daughters, publicly denies he has a son.

Two years ago, contending Shatner's disavowals damaged his reputation, Sloan filed a lawsuit alleging slander, libel and defamation.

On Friday, Judge James Whittemore of United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, permanently dismissed the case.

RELATED: Kirk's Kin? Tampa man says he's William Shatner's son.

"I filed this case because I was upset my father called me a liar," Sloan, a local insurance broker and father of six told the Tampa Bay Times. "The judge didn't see it this way."

In the court filing, Judge Whittemore says Sloan sought "to establish paternity, but under the guise of a tort action sounding like defamation."

Sloan denies that but does admit, "A DNA test would have been the logical next step."

Still, the judge had other reasons for dismissing the case.

Because Shatner is a Canadian citizen residing in Los Angeles without business ties to this area, the court says it has no personal jurisdiction over him.

And, ruled the judge, because it has never been established that Shatner, 87, is Sloan's biological father, "the alleged defamatory statements ... could not have been as a matter of law, false when made."

RELATED: William Shatner may see Tampa man in court over paternity claim.

Representatives for Shatner could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

"If this had gone to a jury, I would have shown many examples that he is my father," Sloan said. "Now I will never have the chance."

Sloan has asked for DNA tests over the years but been rebuffed.

"I cannot force my father to do that," he said.

Shatner and Sloan's late-mother, actress Kathy Burt, worked together in the 1950s on Canadian television.

RELATED: Website shows Shatner link to mother of man claiming paternity.

According to Sloan, the two had a one-night stand in 1956 in Toronto that resulted in his birth on December 9 of that year. His mother then gave him up for adoption and did not tell Shatner of their child until 1962.

When Sloan and his birth mother reconnected in 1984, she admitted his father could be either Shatner or a second man she only recalls as "Chick," a law student from Montreal, but was more certain it was the former.

The multiple affairs, she claimed, were due to her mending a broken heart.

She later detailed this in a letter to Sloan that he shared with the Times. Charles McNeil, Sloan's half-brother through his birth mother, also previously backed this account to the Times as one his mom told him.

In 1984, Sloan's adoptive father George Tilden Orick, a photojournalist with Time-Life Publications, had his friend and Hollywood producer E. Arthur Kean set up a meeting between Shatner and Sloan in Burbank Studios during production of a T.J. Hooker episode.

Sloan says Shatner admitted they were father and son and was willing to talk further at another time. But soon after, Sloan added, Shatner called to say he could not publicly admit the relationship.

Adrea Nairne, the ex-wife of producer Kean, once told the Times, "That first meeting with Shatner had promise. It's a shame it never provided the answers Peter was looking for."

RELATED: Tampa man who says he's William Shatner's son will see him at Mahaffey.

In 2011, Sloan paid for a photo with Shatner at an Orlando comic convention and said the Hollywood star knew who he was.

That was the last time they spoke.

Still, Sloan said, he will move on. "I learned long ago that my father wanted nothing to do with me or my children. That is an old hurt, not a new one."

And he will continue to publicly state Shatner is his father and refer to himself as "Peter Shatner" whenever he wants.

"I have every intention of taking the name from him," Sloan said. "He owes that to me. It is my birth rite. Let him sue me."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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