It’s not uncommon to use genealogy services to find out a little more about your biological history. When 36-year-old Kelli Rowlette sent her DNA into Ancestry.com, she was expecting to learn about her ancestral descent and maybe even discover a few long-lost fourth cousins. In a surprising twist, her results had way more to offer.
The test revealed a parent-child relationship between her and a man named Gerald E. Mortimer. Though the name was foreign to her, horrifyingly to Rowlette’s parents, it was a name that they recognized almost all too well.
Now retired, Dr. Gerald E. Mortimer was an obstetrician gynecologist residing in Idaho Falls. In the early ‘80s, Rowlette’s parents, Howard Fowler and Sally Ashby, had been dealing with infertility issues and turned to Dr. Mortimer for consultation. As a solution, Mortimer suggested that the couple try artificial insemination, using a mixture of Fowler’s sperm with another matching donor. Though the couple laid out specifications for their donor (a college student over six feet with brown hair and blue eyes), Mortimer allegedly spent three months inseminating Sally Ashby with his own sperm sample instead.
In May of 1981, Fowler and Ashby welcomed a baby girl, a child who Mortimer delivered himself. The former gynecologist remained Ashby’s doctor until she and her small family moved to Washington several years later.
Since discovering the news, Rowlette has filed for legal action against Mortimer and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls on the grounds of medical negligence, battery, fraud, infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.
Mainly, the lawsuit asserts that Mortimer knowingly used his own sperm to impregnate Rowlette’s mother.
“Dr. Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms. Ashby or Mr. Fowler,” according to the lawsuit outlined in the New York Post. “Dr. Mortimer fraudulently and knowingly concealed his use of his own genetic material in the Procedure.”
“Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby informed him they were moving,” the lawsuit continued. “[He] knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms. Ashby or Mr. Fowler.”
After the filing, Ancestry.com released an official statement in response to the lawsuit.
“[Ancestry] helps people make new and powerful discoveries about their family history and identity…We are committed to delivering the most accurate results, however with this, people may learn of unexpected connections,” the statement read.
Mortimer and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls are the only parties involved who have yet to publicly address the lawsuit recently against them.