BENTON COUNTY, WA. (THECOUNT) — When Kelli Rowlette received the results from a DNA sample she had sent to genealogy website, Ancestry.com, she assumed several false positives had occurred in the conclusions about her heritage and her supposed “father-daughter” DNA match to a doctor living over 500 miles away.
The test concluded that Rowlette’s DNA matched a sample from a man to whom she had never met. Ancestry went on to predicted a “parent-child” relationship between the two.
Rowlette, who is from Benton County, Washington, received notification from Ancestry.com that she had received a match. She then showed the match’s name, Gerald E. Mortimer, to her mom who instantly recognized it as matching the name of the Idaho Falls, Idaho obstetrician gynecologist who performed her artificial insemination over 36 years ago.
Rowlette’s parents, now divorced, had never told her she was conceived via artificial insemination.
“Rowlette did not know her mother had undergone artificial insemination, nor did she — or her parents — know her mother’s fertility doctor had allegedly used his own sperm to get her pregnant with Rowlette.”
But Rowlette’s revelations were far from over. As it turned out, Mortimer, who is now retired, used his own sperm in when performing Sally Ashby‘s artificial insemination.
According to the lawsuit, back in the 80s, Howard Fowler and his wife Sally had requested that she be inseminated with both sperm from her husband and an anonymous donor who matched the couple’s specifications. Fowler had a low sperm count as a result of injuries suffered in a traffic accident.
The couple requested a donor who was in college and taller than 6 feet with brown hair and blue eyes — and Mortimer told them that he had found the perfect match, the suit says.
The lawsuit claims that when Mortimer performed the procedure in the summer of 1980, he instead used his own sperm. On a side note, he did not match any of the couple’s specifications.
Ashby became pregnant and, in May 1981, Mortimer delivered his own child — never divulging the secret, according to WP.
Mortimer remained Ashby’s doctor for several years until the she and her husband moved to Washington state.
“Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby informed him they were moving,” according to the lawsuit. “Dr. Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms. Ashby or Mr. Fowler.”
Rowlette later ran across her birth certificate. It had been signed by the doctor who delivered her — Gerald Mortimer, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Rowlette was “horrified” and contacted her now divorced parents “in a panic to relay what she had found.”
After news of the lawsuit, a spokeswoman for Ancestry.com released a statement:
“We are committed to delivering the most accurate results, however with this, people may learn of unexpected connections,” it read. “With Ancestry, customers maintain ownership and control over their DNA data. Anyone who takes a test can change their DNA matching settings at any time, meaning that if they opt out, their profile and relationship will not be visible to other customers.”
The family is suing Mortimer and Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls, accusing them of medical negligence, fraud, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.
Geo quick facts: Benton County is a county in the south-central portion of the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, its population was 175,177. The county seat is Prosser, and its largest city is Kennewick. The Columbia River demarcates the county’s north, south, and east boundaries – Wikipedia.