A woman is suing a fertility doctor who she claims used his own sperm to impregnate her mother, instead of that of the specifically chosen college student donor.
Kelli Rowlette submitted a DNA sample to Ancestry.com back in July 2017, according to the federal lawsuit she and her parents, Howard Fowler and Sally Ashby, filed last week in Idaho's federal court.
The results showed something Rowlette did not expect: that she and a man named Dr. Gerald Mortimer shared a parent-child relationship, the lawsuit states. But Rowlette had never heard of Mortimer and "initially she believed the Ancestry.com results were in error," according to the lawsuit.
Rowlette approached her mother, Ashby, to share the "confusing results," the lawsuit states. Ashby recognized Mortimer's name and "was devastated." She told Fowler, her now-ex-husband, and he too was "devastated," according to the lawsuit.
The parents conceived their daughter with the help of Mortimer, an OB-GYN, after they approached him at Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates in Idaho Falls, Idaho, regarding their reproductive difficulties, according to the lawsuit. Mortimer recommended a procedure in which 85 percent of Fowler's sperm was mixed with 15 percent from another anonymous donor in order to "increase the chances of conception," the lawsuit states.
Fowler and Ashby agreed, but only if the donor was a college student with characteristics similar to those of Fowler, according to the lawsuit. Mortimer told them he had access to sperm that matched the requirements, the lawsuit states.
But when he performed the procedure, Mortimer instead allegedly used his own sperm to impregnate Ashby, according to the lawsuit, "falsely" representing it as that of Fowler and the donor.
For months after Rowlette approached them, the parents struggled with whether to tell their daughter who Mortimer was, the lawsuit states. But, before they could act, Rowlette learned the doctor was her biological father when she discovered her birth certificate, which "had been signed by Dr. Mortimer."
Rowlette was "horrified," the lawsuit states.
Had either Ashby or Fowler known that Mortimer was going to use his own sperm, according to the lawsuit, "they would not have agreed to the procedure."
The lawsuit alleges that Mortimer knew Rowlette was his daughter but did not tell Ashby or Fowler.
The basis for this claim? When the family moved from Idaho Falls, Ashby told Mortimer they were relocating to Washington state and he became emotional, according to the lawsuit.
"Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby informed him they were moving," according to the lawsuit. "... Mortimer fraudulently and knowingly concealed his use of his own genetic material in the Procedure."
Rowlette and her parents are suing Mortimer, his wife, Linda G. McKinnon Mortimer, and Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates.
Attempts to reach Mortimer, who has since retired, were unsuccessful.