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Former Harvard Professor Accused of Using His Sperm in IVF Procedure Without Consent

Another doctor is in the news for allegedly impregnating a woman with his sperm under the guise that it would come from an anonymous donor. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Sarah Depoian, 73, claims Dr. Merle Berger reportedly told her and her husband he would impregnate her with a donor’s sperm who resembled her husband, but that allegedly did not happen.

Depoian and her husband visited Berger in 1979 to discuss intrauterine insemination and trusted that Berger, a former professor at Harvard Medical School, would be true to his word. But a home DNA test performed by Depoian’s daughter years later allegedly revealed a dark secret.

The couple trusted Berger.

NBC News reported that according to court documents, Berger told the couple that the sperm would come from a donor who they didn’t know and didn’t know them. The couple was comfortable with the arrangement and proceeded with the IVF procedure. Depoian gave birth to her daughter, Carolyn Bester, in January 1981.

Bester performed a home DNA test decades later.

When the woman — now in her 40s — conducted two DNA tests to learn more about her heritage, she had no idea what she would find out.

“To say I was shocked when I figured this out would be an extreme understatement. It feels like reality has shifted,” Bester told NBC News. “My mom 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.”

The doctor reportedly didn’t deny the insemination.

Bester said she contacted her mother about the results and obtained an attorney. Berger allegedly agreed that Depoian underwent the insemination and that the sperm was to have come from an anonymous donor.

“We fully trusted Dr. Berger. He was a medical professional. It’s hard to imagine not trusting your own doctor,” Depoian recalled. “We never dreamt he would abuse his position of trust and perpetrate this extreme violation. I am struggling to process it.”

An attorney for the plaintiff is appalled by the doctor’s alleged actions.

Depoian’s lawyer, Adam Wolf [of Peiffer Wolf], said that what the doctor allegedly did is reprehensible.

“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,” Wolf said, per NBC News.


This is the second case in recent months of a doctor allegedly using his sperm to impregnate patients.

Sharon Hayes, 67, claimed her doctor, David Claypool, used his sperm during an insemination in the 1990s. Her daughter, Brianna Hayes, 34, allegedly discovered Claypool was her father through a DNA test as well. The family sued Claypool in November 2023.

“It was shocking to find out who my father was,” Brianna Hayes told KXLY. “I feel offput that I’m a product of his violation.”

Full Story: cafemom December 14 2023

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