(WASHINGTON) — A paternity test has proven that Rep. Steve Cohen is not the father of a woman he believed for years was his child.
Cohen, D-Tenn., was spotted trading tweets with a young woman during the State of the Union address Feb. 12. His “ilu” signoffs — digital shorthand for “I love you” — prompted inquiries into the identity of the congressman’s Twitter mate.
The congressman initially told WMC-TV in Memphis, Tenn., that the woman was the daughter of a friend, but days later claimed that the woman, Victoria Brink, was his daughter whom he learned about three years ago.
Cohen asserted that he “googled her mother, found out she had a child and the math looked pretty accurate.”
Now, DNA testing paid for by CNN with the congressman’s cooperation has revealed that John Brink, who raised the woman, is her biological father.
“I was stunned and dismayed at the results,” Cohen, 64, said in a statement. “I still love Victoria, hold dear the time I have shared with her and hope to continue to be part of her life.”
Late Wednesday night, Victoria Brink tweeted, “Everyone watch or DVR @CNN @NewDay tomorrow morning@ 6:30am for something BIG that impacted my life and family! @ChrisCuomo @miguelmarquez.”
John Brink told CNN he never doubted he was Victoria’s father. “I changed her first diaper,” he said. “I cut her umbilical cord. You can’t doubt that.”
Cohen said he bonded with the woman, who is 24 and an aspiring swimsuit model, by taking her on a tour of the Capitol and to a White House Christmas party. Cohen even placed a photo of Brink on his desk in his congressional office.
After trading tweets with Brink during the State of the Union address, Cohen and Brink quickly deleted the posts, although the tweets were archived by Politwoops.
When Brink notified Cohen that she was watching the president’s address, the congressman replied, “pleased you are watching. ilu.” Cohen followed up with “nice to know you were watchin SOTU(state of the union).Happy Valentines beautiful girl. ilu.”
Cameras inside the House chamber spotted Cohen using his phone during the president’s address.
Marilyn Dillihay, the congressman’s chief of staff, and Ben Garmisa, Cohen’s spokesman, have not responded to requests for comment.
Cohen served 24 years in the Tennessee state Senate before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
David Wright, CNN
Cimaron Neugebauer, KUTV
Stephen Collinson, CNN