An Indianapolis fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate his patients without their knowledge will avoid jail time after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.
On Dec. 14, Dr. Donald Cline admitted he lied to investigators about his use of his own sperm when treating patients in his fertility clinic in the 1970s and 1980s. Cline faced up to six years in prison but received a one-year suspended sentence, keeping him out of prison, according to The Associated Press.
"I was scared ... I was foolish in my actions and I should not have lied," Cline said, according to the IndyStar. "I am asking for mercy and compassion for myself."
Cline's actions from more than 30 years ago were uncovered in 2014 when several of his patient's now-adult children started looking for biological relatives using genetic testing services. Two women, who suspected Cline was their biological father, filed a consumer complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's Office, AP reports.
With no legal recourse -- a fertility doctor impregnating patients with his own sperm is not illegal -- the consumer complaint was the only action the women could take to find answers.
Cline denied his actions, but paternity tests confirmed he was the women's biological father. Cline was then charged with obstructing justice by lying to investigators.
Following Cline's sentencing, many of his patients and their children said they wished he had received a harsher punishment.
One former patient, Dianna Kiesler, told the IndyStar she had always believed her husband's sperm was used to impregnate her.
"There were many of us out here that he ruined our lives," she said.
"His only remorse was being caught," Julie Harmon told AP.
Harmon learned Cline was her biological father after she took a DNA test and was linked to several other people who were unknowingly fathered by Cline. "He has no remorse over the act at all."
DNA tests have revealed at least 23 people who are Cline's biological children. It is likely that number could rise.
One woman told the IndyStar how learning Cline was her father led to anxiety and panic attacks.
"My reality is forever altered ... I don't know what normal is anymore," Kristy Killion said. "Though aspects of this journey have broken me, some have made me stronger. Journeys usually come to an end but my journey will be a roller coaster and unfortunately I cannot step off the ride."