Mother charges 'Roots' actor took son

CHICAGO -- A woman who won a paternity suit against 'Roots' actor LeVar Burton says he kidnapped their 4-year-old son and reneged on an agreement to return the child to her after a two-week vacation, it was reported Tuesday.

Chimara P. Smith told police she has not seen her son, Eian, since May 4 when Burton flew from California to take the boy on a two-week Midwestern vacation.


Ms. Smith said Burton had agreed to return the child to her after the vacation, but that she has not heard from Burton and has not seen the child.

Ms. Smith was unavailable for comment.

Burton's agent, Dolores Robinson, told the Chicago Sun-Times Ms. Smith had called Burton and asked him to take the child for an indefinite period because she could not handle him.

Burton, who played the young Kunta Kinte in the 1977 'Roots' television mini-series, admitted the child was his during the 1983 paternity suit and won a suit for joint custody.

Ms. Smith said Burton allegedly took their son to Africa without telling her where to locate the boy after he was supposed to bring the child back to Chicago.

'The kid's all right. He's not in Africa. He's with his grandmother in Sacramento (Calif.),' Ms. Robinson told the Sun-Times in disputing Ms. Smith's claims.


Ms. Robinson, who is based in Malibu, Calif., said the mother had called Burton from Chicago and asked him to take the child.

'So, he flew to Chicago and picked the boy up and brought him back to Los Angeles and the week before last he had to go to Africa on a promotional tour.'

Ms. Robinson said Burton tried to call Ms. Smith but was unable to reach her and left his son with his mother, Irma Christian.

Ms. Smith said Robinson refused to give her Burton's mother's address or telephone number and she resorted to contacting Sacramento authorities, who gave her the woman's work phone number.

Ms. Christian, who reportedly declined to talk to Ms. Smith, told the Sun-Times, the 'child is safe and well.' She said no one is trying to withhold custody.

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