17 families fear that a convicted felon working as a medical technologist may have swapped his sperm and fathered their kids. The suspect, Thomas Ray Lippert, is dead, and the fertility clinic where he once worked has long since closed its doors.
17 families called a University of Utah hotline to express their fears that their children may have been fathered by Lippert. The university did not own the clinic but the clinic did provide services to the school.
The incident came to light when a 21-year-old woman questioned her paternity. Pamela Branum, the mother of the 21-year-old woman, said her husband was able to trace the girl's DNA with help from relatives of Lippert.
The university referred to the Branums' complaint as a clinic "mix-up." The clinic shut down in the 1990s, and the suspect died in 1999.
"Unfortunately, the reality of this very disturbing situation is that there is very little information with which to make any definitive conclusions," Kathy Wilets, a spokeswoman for the University of Utah's health sciences division, told The Associated Press in a statement.
She added: "We believe it is impossible to determine exactly what happened. The university is sympathetic to the distress this situation has caused the Branum family."