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When Kelli Rowlette submitted her DNA for testing via Ancestry.com, she was hoping to find out more about her genealogical history but ended up finding so much more.
According to the results, the 36-year-old Rowlette had been conceived via fertility treatments. Something she was completely unaware of. But that was just the beginning of the shocking discovery.
Rowlette and her parents were shocked to find that her real father was, in fact, the fertility doctor who had performed the artificial insemination.
Now, in light of this discovery, Rowlette, and her now divorced parents, Sally Ashby and Howard Fowler, are suing the retired Dr. Gerald Mortimer and his former employer for $10 million.
The lawsuit was filed in Idaho last week, accusing both Mortimer and Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls of fraud, battery, medical negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress in addition to breach of contract.
Fowler and Ashby visited the clinic in 1979 for help conceiving a child. After they had both been examined, Mortimer diagnosed Fowler is a low sperm count and Ashby with something referred to as a tipped uterus (when the uterus is uncharacteristically pointed toward the spine).
Mortimer’s solution was a procedure that involved artificial insemination of a mix containing 85% mix of Fowler’s semen along with 15% from a donor. Ashby and Fowler agreed to go ahead with the procedure under the conditions that the donor have similar characteristics to Fowler himself (dark hair, blue eyes, over 6’ tall). During the summer of 1980, the couple went through this procedure nine times but said throughout the process that they were completely unaware that Dr. Mortimer (who did not match Fowler’s profile) had in fact provided the donor sperm himself. That information only came to light nearly four decades later when Rowlette received her results from Ancestry.com.
When Rowlette first received her results and saw Mortimer listed as a likely parental match, she assumed the findings were incorrect, but, when she informed her parents who, of course, remembered the doctor they were devastated.
The findings were then further confirmed this past October when Rowlette discovered Mortimer’s signature on her birth certificate.
Thus far, neither Mortimer or the clinic have commented on the allegations.