Doctor accused of using own sperm to inseminate patients gets suspended sentence

In this March 29, 2007 file photo, Dr. Donald Cline, a reproductive endocrinologist and fertilty specialist, speaks at a new conference in Indianapolis. (Kelly Wilkinson,/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A former fertility specialist pleaded guilty to obstructing justice related to claims he used his own sperm to inseminate patients at a fertility clinic in the 1970s and 1980s, Marion County prosecutors said.

Dr. Donald Cline, 79 years, was given a 365-day suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice. Cline admitted to misleading investigators with the Office of Indiana Attorney General during a consumer complaint investigation into those claims.

Cline retired in 2009. The Associated Press reported no other charges were filed against Cline because Indiana doesn’t specifically prohibit fertility doctors from using their own sperm.

“Not only did Dr. Cline abuse his position of complete trust with his patients, his decisions will have lasting impact through generations of the impacted families,” County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in a statement after the sentence was announced. “There were significant limitations to how a criminal case could proceed against Dr. Cline, but ultimately he admitted to his actions and to intentionally misleading investigators.”

In January 2015, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office began to investigate after receiving complaints that Cline had used his own sperm at a fertility clinic, said the statement. The attorney general’s office sent Cline copies of the complaints and asked him to provide a written response to the investigators. In his written response, he denied ever using his own sperm sample for insemination.

In May 2016, Cline contradicted his written statements to the attorney general’s office investigators when he admitted that he did in fact used his own sperm samples to inseminate women in his fertility clinic. The admission was recorded during a phone conversation with one of the people determined to be his biological child. That recording was then turned over to investigators. Further, DNA testing conducted during the course of the criminal investigation confirmed that Cline was the biological father of the two women who filed the original consumer complaint with the attorney general’s office.