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Former Harvard professor accused of secretly using own sperm to impregnate patient

A retired fertility doctor and Harvard Medical School professor is accused of secretly using his own sperm to impregnate a patient who, until recently, believed her 1980 artificial insemination came from an anonymous donor.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Massachusetts, Sarah Depoian, now 73, claims she and her husband visited Dr. Merle Berger, who told them the sperm for her pregnancy would come from a stranger “who resembled her husband … and whom she did not know,” according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The subsequent artificial insemination was successful and the couple welcomed their daughter, Carolyn Bester, in January 1981.

But when Bester, now 42, performed an at-home DNA test earlier this year, she allegedly learned for the first time that her biological father was in fact Dr. Berger. While her test results did not show a direct match to the doctor, they did lead her to a granddaughter and second cousin of Berger’s, who she said helped inform her conclusion.

Upon learning the news, Depoian found herself a lawyer [Peiffer Wolf attorney Adam Wolf], who on Wednesday called Berger’s alleged actions “heinous” and “unlawful,” likening what his client claims to “medical rape.”

“We fully trusted Dr. Berger,” Depoian said. “We never dreamt he would abuse his position of trust and perpetrate this extreme violation. I am struggling to process it.”


In a statement to The Associated Press, Harvard confirmed Berger was at one point academically affiliated with the medical school, but worked in hospitals and clinics the university doesn’t run. He helped found the Boston IVF Fertility Clinic, which currently offers services in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and New York.

Full Story: NY Daily News December 13 2023

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