Directed by Lucie Jordan, ‘Our Father’ is a compelling documentary on Netflix. It examines and unravels the shocking actions of Dr. Donald Cline, a fertility specialist from Indianapolis who inseminated numerous patients with his own sperm, unbeknownst to them. Decades later, this resulted in many lives getting deeply damaged when the children he fathered discovered the truth about their paternity. Not just did it throw them into a dilemma about their identity, but it also ruined the faith his patients placed in him and posed a pivotal question on medical ethics. Now, if you are wondering about the current whereabouts of Dr. Cline since everything became public, we’ve got you covered. Let’s begin.
Who is Dr. Donald Cline?
Zionsville resident Dr. Donald AKA Don Cline was a known name in Indianapolis during the 70s and 80s. After obtaining his undergraduate degree and subsequently his M.D. from Indiana University, he interned at Methodist Hospital. Not just that, he served 2 years in the U.S. Air Force and 12 years in inactive reserve, before getting an honorable discharge. In the late 70s, Dr. Cline opened his fertility clinic which proved to be a blessing for several couples struggling with infertility. He was featured in numerous articles and magazines for his expertise.
From 1971 to 1981, Dr. Cline had a high success rate in helping get women pregnant through artificial insemination, a medical technique that was relatively new at that time. As per the doctor, his sperm donors were medical residents and he used each one only for three successful pregnancies. He used fresh semen for the patients but later during the 80s, he reportedly changed to frozen samples obtained from Follas Laboratories, Indianapolis. However, things took a shocking turn in 2014, when 34-year-old Jacoba Ballard decided to find out about her ancestry.
Ballard logged on to 23andMe, a genomics and biotech website, that helps people find out more about their family histories and connect with lost relatives. Since the age of 10, she was aware that she had been conceived through a sperm donor and wished to find out more about her paternity. To Ballard’s surprise, she found out that she had seven more half-siblings born across the span of seven years, who shared the same father. Her mother then divulged that she had visited Dr. Cline’s clinic in 1979 for help and thus conceived successfully.
Gradually, Ballard reached out to the other half-siblings she had discovered and they all discovered one thing in common- all their mothers had visited Dr. Cline for treatment and had undergone artificial insemination through donors. Appalled at this information, she and her new half-sibling Kristy Killion filed a report at the Indiana Attorney General’s office. Both women were interviewed by the office as well as a Marion County grand jury.
In the meanwhile, another one of Dr. Cline’s offspring wrote him a letter questioning his actions. He refused her claims and wrote back saying, “We used fresh samples collected approximately one hour before the insemination…I matched the blood type of the donor to that of my patient’s husband and also his general physical characteristics. I almost always used resident physicians and most were married with children of their own. Also, their family history was entirely negative for any familial illnesses. This many years later, I could not possibly remember anything else.”
In January 2015, the Attorney General’s office sent Dr. Cline two letters stating that he was under investigation. He responded by clearly stating that he had discarded all the old patient reports and that he only used fresh sperm between 1971 and 1981. “I never knew the name of the frozen donors…I can emphatically say that at no time did I ever use my own sample for insemination nor was I a donor at Follas Laboratories,” Dr. Cline added. Later, the laboratories showed no records of having worked with him.
In May 2015, one of the other half-siblings shared her story with Angela Ganote, a reporter for the Fox59 news channel. The latter then reported the case to the Marion County prosecutor Tim Delaney. Elsewhere, Ballard and Killion started drafting a family tree based upon those who had contacted them and concluded that either Dr. Cline had used the sperm samples of a relative or had used his own. They then contacted Doug and Donna, his children with his wife Audrey.
Doug shared that his father had initially confessed to having used his sperm just eight times, but later changed the number to a bigger one. In 2016, Ballard and Killon finally went with four other half-siblings and met their biological father for the first time. He allegedly revealed to them that he had used his sperm as many as fifty times. After Angela’s report broke out, several new children fathered by Dr. Cline came out, including Matthew White.
Matthew’s mother Liz seemingly feels that she had been sexually violated by her doctor, as he never asked for her consent to use his sperm. Based on all the DNA testings of all the half-siblings who reported that their mothers had approached Dr. Cline as well as his own, he was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in September 2016, for lying to the Attorney General’s office earlier.
Where is Dr. Donald Cline Now?
On December 14, 2017, 79-year-old Dr. Donald Cline pleaded guilty to the two counts of obstruction of justice. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine but the one-year jail sentence against him was surprisingly suspended, due to the numerous letters the court received vouching for his good conduct and old age. During his sentencing, he said, “Out of fear, I acted alone and foolishly, I lied.”
Afterward, in a May 2019 interview, Dr. Cline refused to comment much on the allegations against him. He had retired from practice in 2009, and the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana took away his license in 2018, banning him from reinstating it again. As far as we know, he presently resides in Zionsville and has kept a relatively low profile since 2018. By the time the documentary was filmed, 94 and counting of his donor offspring were discovered.
Read More: Where is Jacoba Ballard Now?