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Utah fertility clinic worker swaps clients’ sperm with his own

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DENVER -- They thought it would be a fun genetics test to learn about family heritage but, after a startling discovery, a family has triggered an investigation into alleged sperm tampering at a former Utah fertility clinic.

The University of Utah, which ran the former Reproductive Medical Technologies clinic, is investigating allegations that Tom Lippert, a former employee of the clinic and convicted felon, swapped out semen samples with his own sperm.

Lippert worked at the clinic while working as a college professor. Prior to his time with the University of Utah he served two years in prison for a 1975 crime in which he kept a college co-ed in a black box for three weeks, and used electroshock therapy on her.

Pam Branum says a genetic test revealed Lippert to be the father of her daughter Annie. She said she remembered him from the clinic because he had a collection of baby photos at his desk.

"I commented on the dozens of baby pictures up there,” Branum said. “He smiled and looked at those and said those are all the babies that I've helped couples have."

The university set up a hotline for other families worried about potential tampering. However, there is very little officials may be able to do. The clinic closed in 1992, and the records no longer exist. Lippert also died in 1999.

"I'm kind of glad he's dead,” Branum said. “It kind of puts that part of it to rest."

In Colorado, fertility clinics, such as the one run by University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine (UCARM), have protocols in place to try to make sure samples are protected from tampering and mistakes.

"To me it is unthinkable," said Dr. Ruben Alvero, a reproductive endocrinologist.

Alvero says clients at UCARM are protected by detailed labeling and sample transferring procedures.

"So the chain of custody is absolutely, one hundred percent tight," Alvero said.

He says the process is also protected against employee tampering, thanks to oversight by physicians, technicians and nurses.

"Although bad people can do bad things, usually we have enough oversight that really there is no opportunity for an individual to do that," Dr. Alvero said.

The University of Utah is having a hard time learning exactly what Tom Lippert did because the clinic closed in 1992 and he died in 1999.



  • MurphyG

    He kept a college co-ed in a black box for three weeks, and used electroshock therapy on her, served two years in prison and was STILL allowed to work at a clinic and as a college professor!? How can that be?

  • The TRUTH

    There is not anything new about this story folks. Mur-derers work in hospitals, se x offenders work in our schools, police officers are co rrupt, people spit in your food at restaurants, auto mechanics r ip you off. This is life.

  • Test

    “This is life.” Only if you’re a Democrat, some of us prefer a more civilized life. If it’s like that where you live, vote out the corruption or move.

  • Molly Ryan

    And yet female accessory-after-the fact of a murder inmates (whose psycho killer boyfriends swore they’d kill their kids if they didn’t help/do whatever) who did absolutely NOTHING wrong are in prison for years, even often given life sentences. What about “EQUAL justice for all”???? I get that no ‘system’ can operate perfectly at all times in all places. After all, it is run by human beings and judges, especially have in many cases, a large degree of ‘discretion’ in how the laws pertaining to serious felonies can be adjudicated.There’s the ‘O.J. Syndrome” whereby money can – and does – ultimately purchase a guilty person a verdict favorable to them. The jury system is, by definition, a kind of wild card thrown into the mix as well, so one can see that laws while being ‘followed’, are also variously interpreted But tell me, in God’s name, HOW can there ever exist such obscenely diverse legal/sentencing outcomes such as that of this guy’s 1975 crime. How can there ever be justice with this degree of legal ‘elasticity’?

  • West

    Test… “Only if you’re a democrat”? You think bad people are going to check your voting record before they mess with you? That’s just a Pat Robertson kind of thing to say.

  • John Riley Goldsmith

    This elegant young lady might ask, as part of any settlement, that the Mormon library in Salt Lake City be hired to do a complete ancestor research family tree on her natural father so she knows who she is. My late wife thought she came from a family of nobodies until she did her genealogy and found she was the direct descendant of 4 American Civil War Union Army heroes and a Revolutionary War Officer. She found membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution both personally and professionally rewarding.

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