Three Canadian families are suing a sperm bank and its distributor, alleging they were given sperm from a convicted felon diagnosed with multiple mental disorders - but told he was a genius.
At least 36 women in Britain, Canada and the US are believed to have been inseminated with the donor’s sperm over the past decade, resulting in pregnancies.
“It’s horrifying,” lawyer James Fireman told AFP on Friday. “These couples were seeking assistance to build a family and were very vulnerable, they put their faith in the (cryobank) industry, and this happens.”
In a claim filed this week, the families allege Xytex Corp, based in the US state of Georgia and Ontario’s Outreach Health Services, misled them.
The plaintiffs are seeking 15 million Canadian dollars ($11.7 million) in damages. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
They allege the companies fabricated the donor’s IQ, and said the man was extremely healthy and working towards a PhD in neuroscience engineering.
The families - who each had one child using the man’s sperm - learned his true identity only when Xytex inadvertently included his contact information in an email to them.
A quick Internet search and a subsequent investigation revealed the donor was actually a 39-year-old Georgia man who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, narcissistic personality disorder, drug-induced psychotic disorder and significant grandiose delusions.
He had been jailed for burglary and other crimes and dropped out of university 20 years ago, although he eventually returned and last year graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
According to the claim, the companies continued to sell his sperm even after being informed of the discrepancies in 2014.