Utah fertility clinic gets 17 claims in semen switching case

A Utah fertility clinic employee, Thomas Lippert, is the biological father of one of the clinic's clients, and is accused of switching his samples with the client's husband's.

By Gabrielle Levy

An investigation into an ex-convict former worker swapping his semen for the husbands' at a Utah fertility clinic has turned up 17 claims, but only one that appeared viable.

Thomas Lippert, who worked at the Reproductive Medical Technologies Inc. clinic from around 1988 to 1993, is accused of switching samples from the intended father of client couples with his own semen. A Texas couple accused Lippert of fathering their 21-year-old daughter, a suspicion confirmed through DNA testing.


A hotline set up by the University of Utah has received 17 calls claiming to be suspicious their child was illicitly fathered by Lippert, but spokeswoman Kathy Wilets said only one of those calls was deemed worthy of a follow-up investigation.

Pamela Branum, the San Antonio woman whose discovery set off the investigation, criticized what she said was the university's lax commitment to investigation Lippert's alleged wrongdoings since she brought the claim to their attention early last year.

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"Truthfully, they haven’t been investigating," she said. "They’ve been stonewalling this whole time."

But the university said there simply isn't much information to hinge an investigation on, as the clinic closed in 1998 and Lippert died in 1999. Ronald Urry, who ran the clinic, died years ago and investigators have been unable to find documents related to Lippert's employment.


Lippert pleaded guilty in 1975 to kidnapping for holding a Purdue University student captive and subjecting her to electroshock in an attempt to make her love him. He served two years in prison.

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The university says that, while practices were not then in place, it now conducts a criminal background check on all employees involved in patient care.

[Salt Lake Tribune] [SLT]

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