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Former Harvard Doctor Allegedly Inseminated Unsuspecting Women with His Own Sperm

'Ms. Depoian, like all patients, had a right to know what was being inserted into her body,' states the lawsuit

Former Harvard Doctor Allegedly Inseminated Unsuspecting Women with His Own Sperm

A fertility doctor and former Harvard professor has been accused of using his sperm to inseminate patients without informing them.

According to a new lawsuit, Dr. Merle Berger allegedly told Sarah Depoian, who was his patient in 1981, that he found an anonymous donor to help her conceive through insemination. The donor was supposed to be a medical resident who looked like Depoian’s husband. Depoian’s daughter, Carolyn Bester, discovered Berger was in fact her biological father after completing genetic testing offered by and 23andMe. 

The test showed Bester was closely related to Berger’s grandaughter and second cousin.

"After Dr. Berger surreptitiously inserted his own sperm into his patient, Ms. Depoian, he covered up his egregious misconduct and prevented her from filing legal claims against him at the time," states the lawsuit filed on Dec. 13. "Plaintiff now seeks compensation for Dr. Berger’s actions."

“Ms. Depoian, like all patients, had a right to know what was being inserted into her body,” the complaint continues. “She also had a right to refuse the insertion of sperm into her body to which she did not consent.”

The lawsuit contends:

Dr. Berger’s misconduct was not a mistake: Rather, in order to engage in the actions discussed in this lawsuit, Dr. Berger needed to masturbate in his medical office, walk over to his patient while carrying his own 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.

To make matters even worse, Dr. Berger then covered up his deeply disturbing conduct. He had multiple opportunities to be honest with Ms. Depoian after the insemination. He could have told her immediately after the insemination, just as he could have admitted his abuse of power days or weeks later…

Dr. Berger’s life would have been entirely different had he admitted his assault on Ms. Depoian at the time. Dr. Berger went on to become one of the country’s most prominent fertility doctors. He founded one of the nation’s largest fertility clinics, Boston IVF, and was an Associate Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School.

Berger has been accused of fraudulent concealment, intentional misrepresentation, and violation of Massachusetts' consumer protection law. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damage of at least $75,000.

Legal representation for the doctor has denied the accusation.

“The allegations concern events from over 40 years ago, in the early days of artificial insemination,” said Berger’s attorney, Ian Pinta, in a written statement, per AP News. “The allegations, which have changed repeatedly in the six months since the plaintiff’s attorney first contacted Dr. Berger, have no legal or factual merit, and will be disproven in court.”

Other prominent fertility doctors have been revealed as the secret biological father of many children in recent years.

Genetic testing revealed Donald Cline, a fertility doctor in Indiana, to have fathered more than 90 children who were raised by parents who received treatment from him. The story gained national attention and led to a Netflix documentary called Our Father.

In 2021, a fertility doctor in Canada agreed to pay $10 million to women who said he impregnated them with the wrong sperm, per NBC News. At least 17 people conceived after their parents went to Dr. Norman Barwin for treatment were determined to be his biological children.

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