Netflix’s latest true-crime documentary, “Our Father,” centers on the fraudulent fertility practice of its subject, Dr. Donald Cline. The shocking story is enough to send a chill down any viewer’s spine. The fertility specialist, who practiced at his Indianapolis clinic from 1979 to 2009, inseminated his patients with his own sperm without their knowledge or explicit consent. Cline fathered over 94 children through his deceptive medical practice. The special 90-minute interviews with several of her biological children as they recount their shock and trauma at discovering their real parentage and the lack of justice afterwards.
The documentary, which premiered on the streamer on May 11, sheds light on Cline’s multiple troubling reproductive violations and the heartbreaking aftermath of the revelation that the half-siblings have had to deal with. So it’s natural to wonder where Cline stands in 2022. Read on to find out.
What did Dr. Donald Cline do?
Cline was a renowned fertility specialist back when artificial insemination was relatively new and still shrouded in secrecy. Unlike its modern version, no paper trail or public record of donor insemination has been kept to avoid any legal paternity objections down the road due to the lack of concrete laws. Cline’s heinous actions first came to light when one of his victims, Jacoba Ballard, took an at-home DNA test, through which she discovered eight half-siblings in 2014, according to The Atlantic.
When the group of half-siblings met in person and began digging up their lineage, they all came to the startling conclusion that Cline lied to his patients and used his own semen for the procedure in secret. The number of half-siblings found in the database of 23andMe (a genealogy website) increased rapidly over the next two months. Cline’s secret biological offspring count stands at 94, showing the growing scope of his immoral practice. According to the youngest donor-conceived child, Cline continued to use his sperm for insemination from 1979 until the late 1980s.
Has Dr. Donald Cline been convicted of crimes?
When Matt White, another of Cline’s biological children, and a group of half-siblings confronted Cline in 2016, he admitted to using his own semen to impregnate his patients. But sensing an unequivocal lack of repentance on Cline’s part, they decided to file a complaint with the Indiana Lawyers Journal. Fox59 reporter Angela Ganote helped break the news, which helped launch a thorough criminal investigation into the matter. Cline was charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice for flatly denying the allegations, which was easily refuted when his DNA sample returned a match with multiple victims.
Unfortunately, he was not charged with rape or assault by bodily waste, because Indiana law only considers it a criminal offense if it is done in a “gross, insolent, or angry manner.” Ultimately, Cline’s medical license was revoked by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana in 2018, which didn’t necessarily affect him as he was well into retirement at the time. He was also sentenced to one year probation and a meager $500 fine. He never served a prison sentence simply due to a lack of federal or state laws protecting victims of reproductive harm like his.
Furious at the injustice of Cline walking away unscathed, the siblings then launched an effort to help pass a fertility fraud bill in Indiana that would outlaw the use inappropriate reproductive material. Thanks in part to their tenacity, in May 2019, the Indiana Legislature finally signed into law the first US law banning fertility deception.
Where is Dr. Donald Cline now?
At the time of the initial investigation, Cline was living with her family in Indianapolis after her retirement. He was always considered an upright citizen, a revered member of the community and an elder in his church. The Netflix documentary, directed by Lucie Jourdan, heavily alluded to Cline’s strong religious beliefs motivating her misdeeds. Jourdan disputed claims that Cline is now dead. “He’s active in his community. He goes to his grandkids’ swim meets and things like that. There’s no hiding place. That’s the problem, he’s always out there. In his head, I don’t think he thinks he’s done much wrong,” she added. told the Guardian.