Doctor accused of using own semen in artificial insemination, lawsuit says

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A dead Las Vegas-area gynecologist is accused of using his own semen to artificially inseminate a woman, leading to the birth of her two children, and then caring for his own daughter as a patient, a lawsuit claims.

Dr. Joseph Plautz, a long-time obstetrics, gynecology and fertility practitioner, died in 2015, according to a copy of his death certificate.

Gayle Fedele, Kevin Phelps and Allison Vece, all of Connecticut, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Clark County District Court. All previously lived in the southern Nevada county, documents said.

In 1984, Fedele was one of Plautz’s patients. Fedele discussed possible artificial insemination with Plautz, documents said, as she wished to have children, but her husband had a vasectomy.

Plautz allegedly informed Fedele she could obtain donor sperm from a Wyoming-based sperm bank.

“Dr. Plautz informed Ms. Fedele that the donor was likely to be a student from a nearby medical school, but he joked that the donor might also be a ‘ski bum’ from Wyoming,” the lawsuit said. “Ms. Fedele requested a sperm donor that was Caucasian, under 45 years old, tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes.”

In June of that year, Fedele informed her doctor she was ovulating and met Plautz an hour later to perform the artificial insemination, documents said. The lawsuit claims after a 15-minute waiting period, Plautz came into the room and “artificially inseminated Ms. Fedele with his own semen.”

“During the procedure, Dr. Plautz was singing and making Ms. Fedele smile, relax, and laugh. She trusted him completely with her body, heart, and mind,” the lawsuit said. “Dr. Plautz instructed Ms. Fedele that it was best to repeat the procedure a second time and it was necessary to return in approximately 4 days to repeat the process; Ms. Fedele returned as instructed and the process and artificial insemination was repeated a second time.”

Nine months later, Plautz delivered Fedele’s children: Phelps and Vece, documents said.

Plautz continued caring for Fedele and later transitioned to caring for Vece, whom the lawsuit alleges is his biological daughter.

“Due to ongoing health issues and complications, including but not limited to severe migraine headaches Ms. Vece suffered, Ms. Fedele requested information about the sperm donor that was the biological father of Ms. Vece,” documents said. “Dr. Plautz informed Ms. Fedele that there was a fire at the sperm bank and all of the relevant medical records were destroyed in the fire.”

In 2021, Phelps took a DNA test, finding several of Plautz’ children were his half-siblings, documents said. Vece later took two ancestry tests herself, confirming the same result.

The lawsuit lists causes of action of negligence, vicarious liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud, among others. It asks a jury to award the defendants a minimum of $15,000, which is the standard ask in Nevada civil cases.

In addition to Plautz’s estate, the lawsuit also cites unnamed medical facilities involved in the alleged scheme.

A hearing in the case was not scheduled as of Friday.

A representative for Fedele, Phelps and Vece did not respond to a request for comment, and a photo of Plautz was not immediately available.

In 2006, Nexstar’s KLAS exposed a similar case involving Dr. Quincy Fortier. The case was later featured in the Netflix documentary “Baby God.”

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