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Mother says fertility doc secretly used own sperm to impregnate her decades ago: lawsuit

A woman claims a retired Boston fertility doctor secretly used his own sperm to impregnate her more than 40 years ago, a lawsuit claims.

Sarah Depoian, 73, said she visited Dr. Merle Berger, a former professor at Harvard Medical School and founder of Boston IVF, and was promised the sperm used at his fertility clinic would come from an anonymous donor.

Depoian’s daughter, Carolyn Bester, was born in 1981 after the successful artificial insemination.
Earlier this year, Bester took a home DNA test and learned Berger was her biological father, according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court for Massachusetts.

Adam Wolf, a lawyer representing Depoian, said Berger’s alleged misdeeds were deliberate and caused great harm.

“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 told reporters Wednesday.


Depoian is seeking “damages in an amount sufficient to compensate her for her injuries,” according to the lawsuit.

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

Bester, now 42, said she received DNA results from and 23andMe as she explored her history earlier this year.

The results didn’t reveal explicitly that Berger was her biological father, they identified a granddaughter and second cousin of his. Bester said she spoke to one of the relatives and started to connect the dots.

“To say I was shocked when I figured this out would be an extreme understatement. It feels like reality has shifted,” Bester, who lives in New Jersey, said. “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.”

Bester told WCVB she wanted her mother to pursue this case in part because she is now a mother herself.
A spokesperson for Harvard Medical School told the Associated Press Berger was academically affiliated with the medical school, but his primary place of employment was at various Harvard-affiliated hospitals which are not operated by the university.

The now-retired professor taught obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology.

Full Story: New York Post December 13 2023

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