Former Bachelor Clayton Echard Speaks Out After Winning Paternity Case: 'Accountability Needed to Be Had' (Exclusive)

Echard tells PEOPLE his family is "excited to see that justice is actually being served" after he won the paternity suit that was filed against him

Pamela Littky/ABC Clayton Echard
Pamela Littky/ABC Clayton Echard

Clayton Echard is speaking out after winning the paternity suit filed against him.

The former Bachelor, 31, tells PEOPLE that he is happy about the legal victory as “accountability needed to be had” nine months after an unidentified woman — who has since been named as Laura Owens in recent court filings — claimed he had fathered her unborn twins during a one-night stand.

“At the end of the day, I don't want her to do this ever again to anybody else... I think she's shown no signs of stopping,” he says. “I mean, I was victim number four that we know of, and so we felt that especially when somebody commits a crime, they should have to face legal repercussions for doing so.”

Pamela Littky/ABC via Getty Images Clayton Echard
Pamela Littky/ABC via Getty Images Clayton Echard

Related: 'The Bachelor' Alum Clayton Echard Declares the 'Truth Will Always Set You Free' amid Paternity Scandal

According to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Arizona Judge Julia Ann Mata noted Owens “knowingly presented a false claim, knowingly violated a court order compelling disclosure or discovery.”

Mata found that “[Owens] acted unreasonably when she initiated litigation without basis or merit. Without an authentic ultrasound, sonogram, physical examination, and in conjunction with a belief she passed tissue in July 2023, the Court finds the underlying Petition premature at best. At worst, however, fraudulent and made to incite communication, a relationship, or both, with the [Echard].”

The former reality star was consequently granted in Petition for Non-Paternity and his attorneys fees.

The court also “determined that Laura Owens has a pattern of similar, if not identical behavior, and court involvement” and referred the matter to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for further review of her actions.

Related: Clayton Echard on His Body Dysmorphia and 'The Bachelor' : 'I've Struggled with Feeling I'm Good Enough'

Echard admits that he was “kind of in disbelief” after seeing the Arizona court’s ruling, adding, “It felt odd that this has been going on for a year and just now it's I guess ended. It was very exciting though, and I was excited to go talk to the other victims and let them know as well.”

He calls the referral to Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges “the ultimate win for me.”

“That's what I wanted more than anything else, because at the end of the day, I don't want this to happen again,” he adds.

John Medland/ABC Clayton Echard
John Medland/ABC Clayton Echard

Echard shares that he had the “unwavering support” of his family throughout the ordeal.

“I sent them all a message this morning letting them know of the verdict, and they were absolutely elated,” he says. “They were very positive that this was going to be in our favor anyways. All of them showed up to the court hearing, so they were there in court with me. And I mean, obviously they were just excited to see that justice is actually being served.”

The Arizona realtor — who has a men’s mental health podcast in the works — says it’s “a little bit odd” to look towards the future after winning the court battle. He explains, “I mean, in a weird way, this has been the last year of my life — and not that I wanted to ever go through this — but it almost became a part of my identity for all the wrong reasons and not what I ever wanted it to be. But it's weird to navigate forward now and say, ‘Okay, I'll just put this behind me.’”

“Of course that's what I want to do, but it feels like so many emotions are wrapped up,” he adds. “And I think now I just have to be able to take the time to finally break this down in my own head and come to terms with all that's occurred.”

Related: Clayton Echard and Rachel Recchia Poke Fun at 'Reality TV Trauma' as They Reunite Beside 'Bachelor' Pals

In a statement to PEOPLE, Echard’s attorney Gregg Woodnick shared, “This has been an exhausting process, but we are very happy with the outcome and Judge Mata’s thoughtful ruling.  We hope this is the end [of] the saga for all the victims.”

Echard also seemingly reacted to the ruling on social media, writing, "Best day ever."

<p>Clayton Echard/Instagram</p> Clayton Echard's Instagram Story

Clayton Echard/Instagram

Clayton Echard's Instagram Story

Related: Susie Evans Calls Relationship with Clayton Echard 'Emotionally Taxing and Not Good for the Soul'

Owens’ lawyer David Gingras told PEOPLE that his client plans to appeal the verdict.

The ruling comes nine months after the Bachelor alum revealed the results of his paternity test and denied he was the father in response to the woman filing a lawsuit against him in September, claiming he had fathered her unborn twins after a one-night stand.

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In the lawsuit, the woman alleged that Echard got her pregnant after the two met for a one-night stand. After filing the suit, the woman requested Echard take a test to find out the paternity of her unborn twins before she gave birth in February. The 33-year-old woman, who chose to remain anonymous at the time, claimed that the former Bachelor wasn’t complying with her requests for a test.

At the time, Echard denied claims he had “sexual intercourse” with the woman in an interview with The Sun. The woman reportedly told the outlet that he refused to take a test and that she had to pay a $725 deposit for it, but Echard called her accusations “baseless” and “lacking in merit.”

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the woman stated that Echard refused to believe she was pregnant when she originally informed him back in June.

“I wanted you to come over to confirm what I was doubting. And you did confirm that. So, I don’t see you as a liar anymore,” he allegedly texted the unidentified woman.

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