Benton County woman's Ancestry.com test reveals her father is he - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Benton County woman's Ancestry.com test reveals her father is her parents' fertility doctor

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RICHLAND, Wash. -

A Benton County woman discovered her parents' OB/GYN is actually her biological father after receiving DNA sample results from Ancestry.com.

According to court documents, Kelli Rowlette's parents, Ms. Ashby and Mr. Fowler, were a married couple struggling to conceive in 1979 in Idaho Falls, Idaho when they became patients of OGA under the care of Dr. Gerald E. Mortimer, an OB/GYN. 

The documents say Dr. Mortimer recommended that the couple undergo a procedure where a donor's sperm would be mixed with Mr. Fowler's genetic material in the medical lab prior to insemination to increase the chances of conception, where 85 percent of the mixture would be Mr. Fowler's genetic material, and 15 percent would be that of a donor's (selected by Ms. Ashby and Mr. Fowler). The couple agreed to try the procedure and selected a donor with certain preferred characteristics (brown hair, blue eyes, over six feet tall).

After agreeing to pay Dr. Mortimer to perform the specified procedure, Dr. Mortimer collected genetic material from Mr. Fowler to perform the procedure over several sessions. 

However, instead of using the specified mixture, Dr. Mortimer inseminated Ms. Ashby with his own genetic material. He falsely represented that he had used donor genetic material and Mr. Fowler's genetic material and intentionally hid this fact from the couple. Had they known, they would have not agreed, according to court documents.

On May 20, 1981, Ms. Ashby gave birth to Kelli Rowlette (maiden name, Kelli Fowler). Dr. Mortimer delivered Kelli Rowlette. 

Dr. Mortimer remained the couple's OB/GYN for several years until the family decided to move from Idaho Falls to Washington. According to court documents, Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby told him they were moving, knowing that Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter.

The truth remained hidden until July 2017, when Rowlette received a notification from Ancestry.com that a DNA sample she had submitted matched with Dr. Mortimer's DNA sample, and predicted their parent-child relationship. At the time, Rowlette did not know who Dr. Mortimer was, and did not know her parents had used help with conception.

At first, Rowlette thought the results were an error, and gave her mother the results. When Ms. Ashby investigated further and saw Dr. Mortimer's name, she was devastated. She contacted Mr. Fowler, her now ex-husband, and told him... who was also devastated by the news. For several months, they struggled with whether or not they should tell Rowlette that Dr. Mortimer had been their OB/GYN when she was conceived. According to court documents, they "struggled to cope with their own anguish, and had difficulty contemplating the torment the discovery would cause their daughter when and if she found out."

In October 2017, Rowlette discovered her birth certificate while helping her father clean out old papers at his home, and was horrified to discover Dr. Mortimer's signature on the birth certificate.

Rowlette, Ms. Ashby, and Mr. Fowler are suing Dr. Mortimer for the charges of Medical Negligence, Failure to Obtain Informed Consent, Fraud, Battery, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Breach of Contract, Consumer Protection Act Violation, Respondeat Superior, and Negligent Supervision.

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