HOUSTON - A Houston man has launched a unique court battle, claiming his twin sons resulted from his sperm being stolen and taken to a Houston fertility clinic without his knowledge, Local 2 Investigates reported Tuesday.
"Actually, I couldn't believe it could be done. I was very, very devastated," said Joe Pressil, a 36-year-old telecommunications manager.
"I couldn't believe that this fertility clinic could actually do this without my consent, or without my even being there," he said.
Pressil said he hadn't considered having a family, and his religious beliefs would never allow him to visit a fertility clinic or participate in any form of artificial insemination. Yet three months after he broke up with his girlfriend, she became pregnant with his sperm at the Advanced Fertility Center of Texas on the Katy Freeway near Beltway 8.
In his lawsuit, Pressil said he found out about the plot when a receipt arrived in the mail, listing him as the patient.
"Pressil was listed as the 'patient' on the receipt even though he had never been to (the clinic) nor ever sought treatment for male infertility," according to his lawsuit.
His ex-girlfriend gave birth to twin boys and then sued him for child support. She was granted that child support after blood tests confirmed Pressil was the father.
"That's a violation of myself, to what I believe in, to my religion, and just to my manhood," Pressil said.
Pressil said his ex-girlfriend always claimed she was unable to have children due to a medical condition involving fibroids. He also said she claimed that her condition required a certain sort of condom be used during sex. Now, in hindsight, he said that seems suspicious.
"I did notice a little bit because she would take the condom and ask me to discard it. And usually, a male would discard their own property, but she would always take the condom and she would run off out of the room and I just didn't think anything of it. And I didn't think that anyone could use a condom and bring it to a clinic to get an in vitro," he said.
Pressil's attorney, Jason Gibson says this is particularly terrifying for a man, especially if he's not planning to have a family.
"It's not what you're thinking when you're in a relationship. That's not what most people are thinking, that their partner is going to get a special condom, use that condom as soon as you're done having sex, run off to the fertility clinic to go have an IVF procedure. That's certainly not what my client was thinking," Gibson said.
An attorney representing the Advanced Fertility Center and Omni-Med Laboratories, Danny Sheena, called the lawsuit "suspect" and "disingenuous."
He admitted that some men simply don't like visiting fertility clinics, so some samples are delivered to the clinic without the man being there. He said, in this case, the specimen arrived in a cup that was sealed in a bag.
Sheena said the father had blood work performed and submitted to the clinic around the same time as the in vitro procedure. He also said the clinic has signed consent forms and information sheets from the father.
"That's the procedure of the clinic. Those procedures were followed and we did obtain a consent from the donor as well as his blood sample."
Sheena said he couldn't say for certain whether the father had ever actually been to the clinic and it's possible that the forms could have been fabricated by the mother.
"When patients provide information like [the ex-girlfriend], we rely on truthful and accurate information," Sheena said.
He also pointed out that numerous procedures, including the successful in vitro fertilization which resulted in the twins, were all billed to the health insurance of the father.
"We do know that we do have his blood work, we do know that his insurance was billed for it, and we do know that his credit card was used to pay for [some of] the visits," Sheena said.
Pressil admitted he allowed his then-girlfriend to sign onto his health insurance as 'domestic partners' when they were dating, but he said he thought his insurance was being billed for treatment of the fibroid condition.
Gibson said the fertility clinic simply took the ex-girlfriend's word for it, and allowed her to bring in semen without the man's permission.
"I hope that an indirect result of this lawsuit will be that these 'one stop baby shop' type places that will take your money and get you pregnant without the male's consent will take note and perhaps change the way they do business in the future," Gibson said.
The ex-girlfriend is not being sued, but she is named in the court documents. Her attorney, Derek Deyon, told Local 2 Investigates that the lawsuit is a scam by Pressil to avoid paying child support.
"That's exactly what this is about," said Deyon, who said his client denies ever taking semen from a used condom for the in vitro procedure.
He said the ex-boyfriend helped to inject her with hormones for the fertility treatment, and he was aware that an initial attempt to become pregnant had failed at the clinic. He said Pressil helped to prepare her for the follow-up treatments and future attempts to become pregnant, but did not want to actually go to the clinic for the final, successful in vitro attempt.
"He knew about the whole process," Deyon said.
Dr. Michael Allon, a principal at Advanced Fertility Center left a phone message for Local 2 Investigates, saying Pressil will have "a lot of questions to answer" once the case goes to court.
His lawyer, Sheena, insisted the donor and the mother requested to have the in vitro fertilization and the clinic has stringent procedures for getting consent.
"The issue between the mother and the father are really issues between them. Unfortunately for the clinic, we're drug into this battle," he said.
Pressil isn't budging. He said he wants justice.
"I want justice, just for everyone out there that this could happen to them."
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