David Fisher

Senior reporter of the year

'He gave a commitment that he would let it go'

Bill Johnson, pictured with wife Kathy on her Facebook page, was helping with the Christchurch earthquake recovery.
Bill Johnson, pictured with wife Kathy on her Facebook page, was helping with the Christchurch earthquake recovery.

The news that Bill Johnson had secretly fathered children left Kathy, his wife of eight years, wondering if their marriage would survive "the utmost of betrayal".

The news was broken to her in a phone call from the Herald on Sunday . Kathy Johnson then confirmed the news by speaking to her husband.

"My heart is broken," she told us later. "I told Bill when I talked to him this morning after receiving your call that I simply can't talk. I can't even breathe.

"I have no idea what life holds for us in the coming days."

She said he had told her of three women who were currently pregnant after a sperm donation and three others who were waiting for news.

"He knows I am shocked and deeply hurt and even angry. It's not something a wife ever wants to experience. It's very personal and very tragic and we'll have to work through this as a family.

"I just can't believe this could be true. I don't believe he would put the reputation he has earned at risk by acting in such an irresponsible, selfish manner."

She said their home was one "filled with love and laughter and desire to give to others".

"All of that is stripped away today. I feel silent and empty."

Kathy Johnson said her husband had spoken of his desire to have children before they were married. She explained it was impossible because of a surgical procedure she had undergone.

However, "I loved him so much that I was willing to let him go find who he was looking for" - and she told him that.

"He assured me I was everything he wanted and my children would be his."

She said he had been a great husband and wonderful father to her three children.

She said she had discovered in June that Bill Johnson had donated sperm to a woman in Christchurch. She said she was "devastated" and the couple returned to the United States where they sought out counselling.

Kathy Johnson said her husband spoke of how he was unable to have "children of his own" but returned to New Zealand having made "a commitment to me to let it go". The latest news suggested he had not - news which was "devastating" and would "crush our kids".

"I am heartbroken that nearly eight years into a wonderful marriage, he has chosen to turn to other women to provide what I can't. I didn't know about these women. I wonder if they knew about me. I wonder if they knew he has a wife back home who cherishes our marriage, and three children who look up to and respect him as a dad, and a new grandson.

"Would they have accepted the donation if they knew it would devastate us?"

Asked if the marriage was over, she said: "We have an unbelievably strong marriage. Can we make it through what I feel is the utmost of betrayal? I don't know. It will take God healing our hearts."

- Herald on Sunday

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