Quantcast

Tuesday, July 22, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 8 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Sperm swap at Utah clinic being investigated

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:36 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2014


SALT LAKE CITY » The University of Utah is investigating a complaint that a convicted felon working at a fertility clinic replaced a customer's sperm with his own, fathering a girl 21 years ago.

The mother of the girl, Pamela Branum, says she and her husband discovered a genetic mismatch in their daughter, and were able to trace her lineage with help from relatives of the now-deceased fertility clinic worker, Thomas Ray Lippert.

"I don't think we're the only ones," Branum told CBS affiliate KUTV in Salt Lake City. "We think we're one of many" victims who used a clinic that was operated by faculty members.

The University of Utah says there is "credible" evidence of semen tampering or mislabeling. On Friday, the university announced it was opening a hotline and offering paternity testing to anyone who used the clinic between 1988 and 1993.

"It was hard at first, to think, 'Who am I?'" the daughter told KUTV in San Antonio, where the family moved in 2003. "I thought I was this person (of) my mom and my dad. Now, my dad is not my biological father. Who am I?"

In a statement that stopped short of taking responsibility or naming Lippert, the University of Utah Health Care system says it appears Branum's daughter was fathered by a clinic employee. The university says there are no remaining records from the Reproductive Medical Technologies clinic to prove the family's claim, or any evidence of other cases.

Kathy Wilets, a spokeswoman for the university's Health Sciences division, said she could not answer a series of questions submitted by The Associated Press in writing. She declined comment on what officials have learned since opening the investigation in April 2013.

"Truthfully, they haven't been investigating," Branum told The Salt Lake Tribune. "They've been stonewalling this whole time."

The fertility clinic performed some university services and was located next to a university laboratory. Three of the clinic's owners were faculty or staff members, the university statement says. Surviving members of the clinic refused comment to The Salt Lake Tribune.

A DNA test of Lippert's 99-year-old mother confirmed that she was the daughter's biological grandmother, professional genealogists have told Utah news outlets.

The family said they stumbled into their unhappy discovery while tracing their lineage using widely available DNA tests.

Branum said she didn't need a sperm donor — and would not have taken Lippert's — when she was impregnated with what she thought was her husband's sperm in 1991.

"I can't imagine a couple seeing him and saying 'Yeah, I want him,' she said.

In a widely publicized case in 1975, Lippert took a plea bargain on kidnapping and other charges for subjecting a Purdue University female student to electroshock behavioral modification techniques in a so-called "love experiment."

The Salt Lake Tribune said he served two years in prison. The AP wasn't immediately able to retrieve court documents for the case.

The Branums, formerly of Park City, Utah, moved to San Antonio in 2003. John Branum is a retired Marine; his wife has two boys from a previous marriage.

Fertility clinics are supposed to follow industry standards to avoid mix-ups and comply with the U.S. Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act, said Eleanor Nicoll, a spokeswoman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"What happened in Utah isn't the result of the clinic not complying with regulations. This is a criminal act," Nicoll said Monday. "He's a bad actor."

Sperm mix-ups are nothing new, but many cases involve honest mistakes.

In what Nicoll called the most notorious case, Virginia fertility doctor Cecil Jacobson was convicted of fraud in 1992.

Jacobson tricked some patients into believing they were pregnant and lied to others when using his own sperm to inseminate them, fathering at least 15 of his patients' children, authorities said.







 Print   Email   Comment | View 8 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(8)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
lokela wrote:
Right out of a science fiction book.
on January 14,2014 | 05:00AM
Upperkula wrote:
Poor Kid, I hope she dont look nothing like this fool. If he wasnt dead already the should cut his wevo's off
on January 14,2014 | 07:26AM
false wrote:
Just look at this guy, this is not good. In fact DNA should be destroyed.
on January 14,2014 | 07:33AM
saveparadise wrote:
Hmm, We only know what we read in the news. Did the wife have an affair with this guy? Was she raped? If not he sure had a weird sense of humour. He got off by masturbating and switching sperm specimens??
on January 14,2014 | 07:53AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Swapping sperm. As allie would say "yikes".
on January 14,2014 | 08:08AM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
NB, are you having Allie-wtihdrawals?
on January 14,2014 | 09:07AM
MKN wrote:
Isn't that considered a snowball? LOL!!!
on January 14,2014 | 08:10AM
PTF wrote:
The guy tried to be a modern day Johnny Appleseed by planting his seeds all over the place.
on January 14,2014 | 09:50AM
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News