A bizarre story involving a corrupt employee at an artificial insemination clinic in Utah was reported Tuesday. The story was first published by Your Genetic Genealogist blogger CeCe Moore.
The story details the findings of a Utah family after they decided to undergo genetic testing.
The mother, named Paula, and her daughter Ashley decided to take the at-home genetic test 23andMe in order to find out more about their ancestry. After seeing their results, they encouraged Jeff, the father of the family, to take the test as well.
Things got strange when Jeff received his test results. He had no DNA in common with his daughter Ashley. Confused by their findings, the family went online to popular genealogy sites and contacted a woman who did share DNA with Ashley. The woman, Cheryl, responded to the email with some eye opening information.
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Cheryl told the family about her cousin Tom Lippert, a former fertility treatment worker at Reproductive Medical Technologies. Though Tom died in 1999, his mother was still alive. Tom’s mother had a genealogy analysis of her own done. This analysis confirmed what Paula and Ashley suspected when they contacted Cheryl: Tom was Ashley’s father.
When Cheryl shared a picture of Tom with Paula and Jeff, memories came flooding back. The couple instantly recognized that he was the man they’d been helped by so many years ago at Reproductive Medical Technologies (RMT) when they were trying to conceive Ashley. Paula recalls that Tom proudly displayed dozens of photographs of children whose parents he’d “helped” conceive through his work at RMT. Cheryl remembered that Tom referred to himself as a sperm donor when asked about his work by his family.
RMT confirmed to Moore that there is currently an on-going investigation into whether Lippert tampered with semen samples during his time working at the fertility clinic. Now that he has been confirmed as Ashley’s father, the family wonders if Lippert could secretly be the father of hundreds of other children in the Salt Lake area as well.
Paula spoke to Moore about her concerns.
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“We've talked about losing our privacy when this first comes to light,” she said. “…If we keep this private we won't be able to say, ‘It's okay, we're going through this and we're stronger for it. You too, need to find out if you went to this clinic for this type of procedure (or any other where your husband's sperm was used) during these nine years. These possible half siblings may be attending the same colleges and developing relationships.’"
Paula also feels that DNA testing all children after birth would prevent things like this from happening in the future.
“I also feel strongly that this can be stopped in the future from ever happening again,” Paula said. “Independent DNA testing [should be mandatory] after the baby is born when using any kind of sperm procedure. No one would do this knowing they would immediately be found out."