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Fertility doctor denies using own sperm to impregnate patient

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Gerald Elbert Mortimer

IDAHO FALLS — A retired Idaho Falls gynecologist denies using his own sperm to impregnate a woman 30 years ago.

Gerald Mortimer denied any wrongdoing in his response to a lawsuit in Idaho’s U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Mortimer claims he has no recollection of the incident and denies using his own sperm to artificially inseminate Sally Ashby in June 1980.

The civil suit was filed by Kelli Rowlette, a Washington resident, and her divorced parents, Ashby and Howard Fowler.

The accusations came to light after the 36-year-old Rowlette received an unexpected result from a DNA test sent to Ancestry.com in July 2017. If users opt in, Ancestry.com can link them to others with similar DNA.

The Ancestry.com results predicted a parent-child relationship between Mortimer and Rowlette, according to the complaint.

In Mortimer’s response to the complaint, he claims Ashby chose to use anonymous donor sperm in the artificial insemination procedure. He admits suggesting that Ashby consider using donor sperm to increase the opportunity for conception but denies using himself as the donor.

According to the complaint, Rowlette and her parents allege that neither the donor sperm, nor Fowler’s sperm, were used during the procedure. Instead, Mortimer allegedly inseminated Ashby with his own semen and then intentionally concealed that fact from the parents.

The lawsuit claims that had the parents known Mortimer was going to use his own semen, they would not have consented to the procedure.

All three plaintiffs say they are “devastated” by Mortimer’s alleged actions, according to court documents.

The family is suing for medical negligence, failure to obtain consent, fraud, battery, infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and engaging in deceptive trade practices.

Mortimer’s response claims that even if the allegation were true, which he denies, Rowlette and her parents’ claims are barred by Idaho’s statute of limitations. He has demanded the suit be decided before a jury.

The family is seeking an undisclosed amount of more than $75,000 in damages.

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