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Mass. doctor ‘surreptitiously inserted’ his own sperm into IVF patient, lawsuit alleges

BOSTON — A longtime Massachusetts doctor has been sued by a former patient who alleges in a newly filed lawsuit that he secretly fathered her daughter after he “surreptitiously” inserted his sperm into her instead of a donor’s as she underwent an In vitro fertilization treatment more than 40 years ago.

Dr. Merle Berger, who has homes in Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard, “covered up his egregious misconduct” and “took steps to prevent” Sarah Depoian, of Cumberland County, Maine, from filing legal claims against him following the alleged incident in 1980, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Massachusetts.

Depoian and her husband visited Beger for assistance with conceiving a child because Depoian husband’s sperm couldn’t be used, and Berger “promised to perform an insemination using the sperm of a medical resident who resembled her husband,” the lawsuit [brought by Peiffer Wolf Attorney Adam Wolf] indicated.

The couple then paid a “significant amount of money” for the fertility treatment Berger provided to her.

It wasn’t until recently that Depoian discovered that Berger didn’t use the sperm from the medical resident as he promised, instead inserting his own into her body, the lawsuit states.

“Depoian, like all patients, had a right to know what was being inserted into her body. She also had a right to refuse the insertion of sperm into her body to which she did not consent. She also had a right to refuse the insertion of sperm into her body to which she did not consent,” the complaint read. “Berger’s misconduct was not a mistake: Rather, to engage in the actions discussed in this lawsuit, Berger needed to masturbate in his medical office, walk over to his patient while carrying his sperm, and then deliberately insert that sperm into his patient’s body — all while knowing that she did not consent to his sperm entering her body.”

The lawsuit further alleges that Berger “covered up his deeply disturbing conduct,” despite having “multiple opportunities to be honest with Depoian.”

Berger went on to become a prominent fertility doctor, launching one of the nation’s largest fertility clinics, Boston IVF. He was also an associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School.

Depoian’s 42-year-old daughter, Carolyn Bester, purchased a DNA kit from and in late 2022 to learn more about her family history, but the results that were sent to her in early 2023 didn’t yield a direct result for the biological father, according to the lawsuit.

“Her [Depoian’s] daughter was intrigued by the fact that it listed numerous people to whom she is related on her father’s side of the family. Among those to whom she is related are Beckett Childs and Mindi Kleinman,” the lawsuit states. Depoian’s daughter subsequently found out that Beckett Childs is Dr. Berger’s granddaughter and Mindi Kleinman is Dr. Berger’s second cousin. After speaking with one of her newfound relatives, Carolyn pieced together that Berger is her biological father.”

After Depoian discussed the DNA results with her daughter, she later contacted Berger’s counsel and notified him of her intent to sue him for “fraudulent concealment.”

Depoian is also suing Berger for “intentional misrepresentation,” a count that stems from a second IVF consultation that he had with her three years later.

In early 1983, Depoian asked to have a second child with the same sperm donor but Berger allegedly told an intentional lie, “falsely claiming that he did not know the identity of the sperm donor that led to the first pregnancy.”

“This was a lie that Berger purposefully told to cover up his misconduct and prevent Depoian from taking legal action against him,” the lawsuit states.

Since learning of Berger’s alleged actions, Depoian’s attorneys say she has suffered from “significant mental anguish, anxiety, stress from physical violations, and sleep disturbances including nightmares.”


Depoian is demanding Berger appear in court for a jury trial and she’s also seeking an array of monetary damages.

Full Story: Boston 25 News December 13 2023

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