Ex-Harvard doctor used his own sperm to impregnate fertility patient: lawsuit

A Maine woman is suing her former fertility doctor, an expert in the field and former professor with Harvard Medical School, for allegedly secretly impregnating her with his own sperm when he was supposed to have found an anonymous donor who looked like her husband, according to a new federal lawsuit.

Sarah Depoian successfully became pregnant in 1981 after visiting Dr. Merle Berger. Her 42-year-old daughter, Carolyn Bester, began researching her own genealogy with Ancestry.com and 23andMe last year.

The results did not come back with a “direct result” for her biological father, but the New Jersey resident found she was related to two blood relatives of Berger’s – his granddaughter and a second cousin.

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“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,” the lawsuit, filed Wednesday, reads. “Plaintiff now seeks compensation for Dr. Berger’s actions.”

Depoian’s husband’s sperm couldn’t be used for the procedure, according to the civil complaint, so the deal was that Berger would use a sample from “a medical resident who resembled her husband, who did not know her, and whom she did not know” for the fertility treatment.

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The lawsuit alleges fraudulent concealment, intentional misrepresentation, a violation of Massachusetts’ consumer protection law, and is seeking unspecified damages of more than $75,000.

An attorney for Berger told The Associated Press that the allegations have “no legal or factual merit” and claimed that Depoian’s story “changed repeatedly” over the past six months.

Harvard Medical School also distanced itself from the former associate clinical professor – saying he was affiliated but mainly worked at independent hospitals.

Berger has multiple homes in Massachusetts, according to the lawsuit, including in Boston and on Martha’s Vineyard.

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“Dr. Berger’s life would have been entirely different had he admitted his assault on Ms. Depoian at the time,” the lawsuit claims. “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. He should have known better – and, in fact, did know better – than to abuse his patient.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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