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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

A Lifetime of Lies: The Fictional Life of David St. Clair

For one reason or another, it seems every family has its secrets. These hidden discretions can range from parents not discussing a shameful relative with their kids to something as innocent as an embarrassing mishap at a past family gathering. Often, parents will keep secrets from their children until they get older in an attempt to provide some form of protection. In some instances, however, the information being withheld from a child is motivated more by self-preservation than parental instincts.

This was the case for Chip St. Clair, who found out that his father, David, had been keeping a host of secrets from him his entire life. When Chip turned 22-years-old, he found out that not only was his father not really named David St. Clair, but he was also a wanted fugitive who had been using his identity to run up thousands of dollars in debt in his name.

A childhood filled with abuse was only the beginning
David had been abusive to Chip for most of his life, both physically and psychologically, and often teased him with strange hypothetical questions. David would present "what-if" scenarios to Chip with questions like "What reaction would you have if you found out your father had been in prison?"

One final altercation was the last straw
In 2002, Chip brought his new fiance home to see his parents, and got into an fight with David during which he dislocated his shoulder. He called his aunt to discuss the situation, and being fed up with the abuse, she revealed that David was actually a convicted felon. His father's real name was Michael Grant, and he had escaped from prison in Indiana after being sentenced for murdering a child in 1970.

After learning part of the truth, Chip sought to unravel the rest
This prompted Chip to reevaluate his relationship with his father and look into what other lies David may have told him while he was growing up. After investigating his credit report, Chip saw that both of his parents had been using his identity to take out numerous credit cards as well as more than $50,000 in loans since he was a child.

David eventually went back to jail, and Chip went on to publish an acclaimed account of his childhood in the novel "The Butterfly Garden." Despite his damaged credit score and fractured relationship with his parents, St. Clair used the events to help raise awareness about identity theft for other victims.