A FERTILITY doctor is being accused of secretly impregnating a woman after promising the sperm would come from an anonymous donor, according to a lawsuit.
Sarah Depoian, 73, from Maine, US, said she and her husband first went to former Harvard professor Dr Merle Berger in 1979 to discuss artificial insemination.
She was told the sperm would come from a donor who she did not know, according to the lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Wednesday.
Sarah became pregnant in 1980 and gave birth to her daughter Carolyn Bester in January 1981.
Earlier this year, Ms Bester, now 42, conducted a home DNA test and discovered Dr Berger was her biological father, according to the lawsuit.
Adam Wolf [of Peiffer Wolf], a lawyer representing Mrs Depoian, said Dr Berger clearly knew that what he was doing was wrong.
He said: “Some people call this horrific act medical rape, but regardless of what you call it, Dr Berger’s heinous and intentional misconduct is unethical, unacceptable and unlawful.”
Mrs Depoian said: “We fully trusted Dr Berger. He was a medical professional. It’s hard to imagine not trusting your own doctor.
“We never dreamt he would abuse his position of trust and perpetrate this extreme violation. I am struggling to process it.”
Artificial insemination is a fertility treatment that involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s womb.
It can be offered on the NHS for couples that are unable to have vaginal sex or if one partner has a condition meaning they need specific help to conceive, such as HIV.
Costs in the private sector range from around £700 to £1,600 for a cycle.
In the lawsuit, Mrs Depoian is in part seeking damages in an amount sufficient to compensate her for her injuries.
Ms Bester, who lives in New Jersey, said she received DNA results from Ancestry.com and 23andMe as she explored her history earlier this year.
The results didn’t show a direct match to Dr Berger but identified a granddaughter and second cousin of his.
Ms Bester said she spoke to one of the relatives and started to piece together the puzzle.
She said: “To say I was shocked when I figured this out would be an extreme understatement. It feels like reality has shifted.
“My mum put her trust in Dr Berger as a medical professional during one of the most vulnerable times in her life.
“He had all the power and she had none.”
Ms Bester said she told her mother, who then contacted Berger through a lawyer.
A Harvard Medical School spokesperson said Dr Berger was academically affiliated with the medical school.
Full Story: The Sun December 14 2023