NATIONAL NEWS

An Idaho woman sues her fertility doctor, says he used his own sperm to impregnate her 34 years ago

Oct 26, 2023, 7:50 PM

Brianna Hayes, center, poses with her older sister Darci Hayes, left, and mother Sharon Hayes, righ...

Brianna Hayes, center, poses with her older sister Darci Hayes, left, and mother Sharon Hayes, right, in June 2019 after graduating from her graduate school program at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. Sharon Hayes, of Hauser, Idaho, sued her former fertility doctor in Spokane on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, saying that he secretly used his own sperm to inseminate her when she became pregnant with her second daughter 34 years ago – information Brianna Hayes said she discovered after taking an at-home DNA test. (Sharon Hayes via AP)

(Sharon Hayes via AP)

SEATTLE (AP) — An Idaho woman is suing her one-time fertility doctor, saying he secretly used his own sperm to inseminate her 34 years ago — the latest in a string of such cases brought as at-home DNA sampling enables people to learn more about their ancestry.

Sharon Hayes, 67, of Hauser, Idaho, said in the lawsuit that she sought fertility care from Dr. David R. Claypool, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Spokane, Washington, in 1989 after she and her then-husband had been unable to conceive.

She wanted an anonymous donor, and, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court, Claypool informed her the donor would be selected based on traits she selected, such as hair and eye color, and that the donor would be screened for health or genetic issues. He charged $100 cash for each of several treatments, saying the money was for the college or medical students who were donating the sperm, the lawsuit said.

But last year, her 33-year-old daughter, Brianna Hayes, learned who her biological father was after submitting her DNA to the genetic testing and ancestry website 23andMe, Brianna Hayes told The Associated Press on Thursday.

“It’s been an identity crisis, for sure,” she said. “This was hidden from me my whole life. I felt traumatized for my mom, and the fact that I’m a product of his actions is off-putting.”

Hayes also learned something else: She had at least 16 other half-siblings in the area, she said. It was not immediately clear if any other women are pursuing legal claims against Claypool.

The AP was unable to reach Claypool through phone numbers listed for him. His lawyer, Drew Dalton, declined to comment in response to an emailed request, saying he had not had a chance to speak with his client.

Dalton told The Seattle Times, which first reported about the lawsuit Thursday, the matter had been in mediation. But the newspaper reported that Claypool claimed he had no knowledge of the allegations and didn’t know Sharon Hayes. He stopped practicing in 2005, he said.

“I know people are very happy,” Claypool said of his past patients. “But this is the first I’ve heard of anything in 40 years.”

A number of cases of “fertility fraud” have arisen as online DNA services have proliferated. Last year, a New York Times story said more than 50 U.S. fertility doctors had been accused of fraud related to donated sperm, and a Netflix documentary focused on an Indiana fertility specialist who secretly fathered at least 94 children while inseminating patients.

A Colorado jury awarded nearly $9 million to three families who accused a fertility doctor of using his own sperm to inseminate mothers who requested anonymous donors.

The claims in Sharon Hayes’ lawsuit include fraud, failure to obtain consent in violation of state medical malpractice law, and violation of state consumer protection law for “his scheme to charge cash for his own sperm, while he was representing it was a donor’s sperm,” said RJ Ermola, an attorney for Hayes.

Brianna Hayes said she has enjoyed getting to know her half-siblings, but she has never met Claypool. She initially sought genetic information to see if it would help explain health issues, including a childhood bout with leukemia — “conditions that do not run on my mom’s side of the family.”

She said her mother has struggled with the revelation: “She’s a puddle this morning,” she said. “She feels immense guilt for putting me in this situation. I told her, ‘This wasn’t you at all — you went through all the appropriate channels to do what you needed to do. You were just being a mom, wanting to be a loving mother.'”

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - The 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is seen, Oct. 2...

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

Six years after the Parkland school massacre, the bloodstained building will finally be demolished

The demolition of the building where 17 people died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting is set to begin. Crews will begin tearing down the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday.

2 hours ago

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands while meeting i...

Fatima Hussein, Associated Press

G7 leaders agree to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets. Here’s how it will work

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies have agreed to engineer a $50 billion loan to help Ukraine in its fight for survival that would use interest earned on profits from Russia's frozen central bank assets as collateral.

2 hours ago

File - Workers install lighting on an "X" sign atop the company headquarters, formerly known as Twi...

Associated Press

What happened to the likes? X is now hiding which posts you like from other users

Social media platform X is now hiding your likes.

9 hours ago

Police say they arrested a man Friday in the investigation of a violent murder in West Valley City....

Teresa Crawford, Associated Press

3 deputies shot while responding to northern Illinois home, suspect also wounded, official says

Authorities say three sheriff’s deputies have been shot while responding to a northern Illinois home.

9 hours ago

A rare white buffalo calf, reportedly born in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley, is shown on...

Amy Beth Hanson, The Associated Press

Reported birth of rare white buffalo calf in Yellowstone National Park fulfills Lakota prophecy

The reported birth of a rare white buffalo in Yellowstone National Park fulfills a Lakota prophecy that portends better times, according to members of the American Indian tribe who cautioned that it’s also a signal that more must be done to protect the earth and its animals.

10 hours ago

A star athlete, Hilton Crawford appeared many times in the South Park High School yearbook....

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

‘Ransom: Position of Trust’: Suspected kidnapper had red flags in police record

What drove a “family friend” to kidnap a 12-year-old boy? Hilton Crawford was a police officer, a trusted coach and pillar of the community.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

An Idaho woman sues her fertility doctor, says he used his own sperm to impregnate her 34 years ago