The University of Utah is investigating a now-closed fertility clinic in Midvale, Utah, where a former New Ulm man who died in 1997 is believed to have substituted his sperm for another man's, fathering a child in 1991.
Thomas R. Lippert, who once taught at Southwest State University, was a part-time employee at the clinic and of the University of Utah from 1988 to 1994, according to a report on KUTV in Salt Lake City on Friday.
The switch came to light last year when the couple and their now 21-year-old daughter, now living in Texas, underwent DNA testing to trace their genetic genealogy. The test results showed that the father and daughter were not related.
The couple, which had trouble conceiving a child, had gone to Reproductive Medical Technologies, (RMTI), a private clinic in Midvale owned by a university faculty member who has since died. The mother was artificially inseminated with what she thought was her husband's semen, and bore a daughter.
The woman recalled that Lippert had a stack of baby pictures behind his desk. "He seemed friendly and was very proud of all those pictures, (it) almost seemed like a brag board up there, those where the children that he had helped people have," the mother told KUTV.
A DNA sample from a surviving family member confirmed that Lippert was the biological father of the child.
A check into Lippert's background revealed an even stranger story. In the 1970s, Lippert, then a 25-year-old professor of law at Southwest State University (now SMSU), had served two years in prison for kidnapping a female student from Purdue University and holding her for three weeks while he conducted a "love experiment" that included using electroshock therapy on her to try to make her fall in love with him. She was found by the FBI on the Southwest State campus after a missing persons report was filed.
According to a 1975 People Magazine article which examined the case, Lippert accepted a plea bargain offered by the government. Kidnapping charges were reduced to one count of conspiracy on condition he submit to 90 days of psychiatric treatment.
The University of Utah issued a statement that it has been investigating the situation since April 2013. The university said there are no remaining records from the clinic, so it is unknown how the incident might have happened. The family suspects Lippert deliberately switched the intended father's semen with his own and that he may have fathered other children in this manner. A website has been created for people who suspect they might have received Lippert's sperm (www.lippertschildren.blogspot.com/)
The university is offering professional genetic testing for RMTI clients who were treated between 1988 through 1994.