APR 05, 2018 5:16 PM PDT

Doctor's Gross Misconduct Revealed by DNA Test

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Many people have been curious about what results they might get from one of the popular DNA tests that can reveal more about a person’s ancestry. No one expects to be utterly shocked at the results, as one woman was. It took years to uncover the whole story, and now that it is finally out, she has filed a lawsuit against a fertility doctor.

Kelli Rowlette found out her biological father was actually a stranger, someone named Gerald Mortimer. Later, she would learn that he was a fertility doctor who worked with her parents. Shockingly, he had used his sperm to impregnate her mother without her knowledge or consent.

Rowlette used an Ancestry.com test; when it indicated she was connected to a stranger, she just dismissed the results. The connection was dated to her birthday, suggesting this person was her father. She assumed the test was just a terrible product. She ended up mentioning it to her mother, Sally Ashby, who had a much different reaction to the information.

Ashby and her now ex-husband, Howard Fowler, had a tough time conceiving. The fertility doctor who treated them, Mortimer, said Ashby’s uterus was tipped, and Fowler had poor quality sperm. He suggested they could use a sperm cocktail, 85 percent of it would be Fowler’s ‘genetic material,’ and the remainder would come from a donor, he claimed. The couple had some conditions before agreeing; the donor had to share some physical characteristics, like height, eye and hair color, with Fowler. 

When Mortimer claimed to have the right sample awhile later, Ashby had nine treatments and finally became pregnant. When the family moved to a different state a few years later, Mortimer, who was by then the family OB-GYN, cried when he found out, alleges the lawsuit. 

Our DNA can reveal things we did not know about ourselves. / Image credit: Maxpixel

Rowlette only learned the truth when she was cleaning her father’s desk and found her birth certificate. Mortimer had apparently signed it, alleges the suit. 

The family said they would never have agreed to this procedure if it had been accurately disclosed to them. Rowlette is now seeking ten million dollars in damages for battery, fraud, medical negligence, and other charges. 

This is not the first time this has happened to someone. In 2013, a doctor in New York was sentenced to five years prison time and had to pay $116,805 in fines and restitution after using his sperm to inseminate patients.

Another doctor was accused in a case in 2016 and pled guilty to two charges of obstruction of justice. 


Sources: NPR, CNN

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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