Lawsuit Claims Former Harvard Physician Impregnated a Patient With His Own Sperm

( — A former Harvard Medical School professor who founded one of the country’s largest fertility clinics has been accused of secretly impregnating a patient himself more than 40 years ago, the Associated Press reported.

In a lawsuit filed on December 13 in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 73-year-old Sarah Depoian said she and her husband went to Dr. Merle Berger in 1979 to discuss using intrauterine insemination to have a child.

Berger, a former professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, allegedly told Depoian that he would inseminate her with sperm from an anonymous donor who matched her husband’s appearance. He said the donor would not be known by her and would not know Depoian, according to the lawsuit.

Berger performed artificial insemination on Depoian in 1980, and she successfully got pregnant. In January 1981, she gave birth to a daughter. Earlier this year, Depoian’s daughter, Carolyn Bester, did a home DNA test that revealed that her biological father was Dr. Merle Berger, according to the lawsuit.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Depoian’s attorney Adam Wolf said Berger’s “heinous and intentional misconduct” was not only “unethical” and “unacceptable” but was also “unlawful.”

In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Dr. Berger’s lawyer, Ian Pinta, said Berger was a “pioneer” in the field of medical fertility who has helped thousands of families in his 50 years of practice.

Pinta said the allegations in the lawsuit stem from “the early days of artificial insemination” and asserted that the claims by the plaintiff have “changed repeatedly” since Adam Wolf first contacted Dr. Berger six months ago. Pinta asserted that the allegations were without “legal or factual merit” and would be “disproven in court.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, a spokesperson for Harvard Medical School said that while Dr. Berger was a professor at the school, his primary employment was at Harvard-affiliated hospitals that the university neither owns nor operates.

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