A retired fertility doctor who allegedly used his own sperm about 50 times to inseminate unsuspecting patients, pleaded not guilty in late September to two counts of felony obstruction of justice for misleading authorities investigating complaints from children he fathered.
Not only did the doctor's lapse in ethics lead to the criminal charges, but it could lead to malpractice lawsuits.
The physician is a 77-year-old retired doctor from Indianapolis, Ind. He is accused of fathering eight children by five patients. The youngest child is about 30 years old. Earlier this year, when he met six of the children, he told them he had used his own sperm about 50 times starting in the 1970s, according to documents from the criminal case. He said he marked the files of those 50 or so patients with asterisks so he could use his sperm again if any of the patients returned wanting another child. However, the doctor later denied the claim in a letter to an investigator for the Indiana attorney general's office, hence the obstruction charges.
At the time of the treatments, the doctor had told his patients he was inseminating them with "fresh sperm" from college students, according to court documents.
Questions about the doctor's treatments began innocently. An Indiana woman who knew her parents had used a fertility doctor was researching her family history and called the doctor for information about the sperm donor. Physicians are only required to keep patient records for seven years and the woman was informed that her mother's file had been destroyed.
The woman accepted the doctor's explanation and began pursuing other avenues to learn about her genetic father. She listed herself on a website that connects donor children and found a familial connection to another woman on the registry. In 2014, the Indiana woman took a DNA test and found six more matches. That is when the genetic siblings became suspicious because the use of sperm from the same donor was supposed to be discontinued after three successful pregnancies. The genetic half-sisters who started the search eventually learned, through DNA, that they are related to 70 relatives of the doctor.
Although the doctor retired seven years ago, six of the genetic siblings were able to track him down for a face-to-face meeting where the doctor, he admitted to using his own sperm in his procedures about 50 times when he did not have fresh samples available.
Although patients undergoing fertility treatments usually sign a waiver holding the donor and the clinic harmless against claims of child support and other issues, the doctor, in this case, could have left himself open for civil litigation because he deceived his patients by telling them the donor sperm came from medical or dental school students.
If convicted of both counts of obstruction of justice, the doctor faces up to five years in prison.
It is not the first time a fertility doctor has gotten in legal trouble for using his own sperm. During his more than 20 year career, a Virginia doctor secretly used his own sperm to inseminate patients and may have fathered as many as 75 children. In 2009, a Connecticut doctor settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for substituting his own sperm for that of a patient's husband during an artificial insemination procedure.
If you or a loved has been harmed as a result of improper fertility treatments, you may be entitled to compensation, despite the recent Arizona ruling. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.