Renowned Fertility Expert Impregnates Patient with Own Sperm Secretly, Lawsuit Underway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – In a shocking revelation, a former patient has accused a renowned fertility doctor and ex-Harvard Medical School professor of using his sperm to impregnate her without her consent. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleges that Dr. Merle Berger, co-founder of Boston IVF, one of the nation’s most significant fertility clinics, committed this act in 1980.

Sarah Depoian, the plaintiff, underwent intrauterine insemination, a process where sperm is placed directly into the woman’s uterus to increase pregnancy chances. She was led to believe that the sperm used was from an anonymous medical resident who resembled her husband. However, the lawsuit claims that Berger used his sperm, a fact he concealed from Depoian.

The complaint details the disturbing nature of Berger’s actions, emphasizing that this was not a mere mistake but a deliberate and calculated violation of his patient’s trust and body. The lawsuit states, “Dr. 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.”

Depoian gave birth to her daughter, Carolyn Bester, in January 1981. Earlier this year, Bester’s use of a DNA kit to explore her family history led to the discovery of her biological relation to Berger, a revelation she shared with her mother.

In a subsequent pregnancy attempt in 1983, Depoian approached Berger again, requesting the use of the same donor’s sperm. Berger falsely claimed ignorance of the donor’s identity, the lawsuit alleges, accusing him of concealing his fraud to avoid legal repercussions.

Berger, who retired in 2020, had a distinguished career, including serving as a professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. His lawyer has dismissed the allegations as lacking legal and factual merit, citing the significant time elapsed and the different context of fertility treatments in the early 1980s.

The case has drawn attention to the ethical boundaries crossed in the fertility industry. Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, highlighted the disturbing trend of fertility doctors using their sperm without patients’ knowledge. This unethical practice deceives the couple and impacts the child born from such actions.

The lawsuit against Berger is not an isolated incident. A similar case was the subject of the Netflix documentary “Our Father,” which detailed the actions of Dr. Donald Cline, an Indianapolis-based fertility doctor who impregnated at least 50 women in secret with his sperm in the 1970s and 1980s. The documentary, which premiered in May 2022, featured interviews with the genetic siblings who discovered each other through DNA testing websites.

The legal proceedings against Berger will be closely watched as they unfold, potentially setting a precedent for handling such cases.