Sperm Donor Scandal Lawsuit: How One Man with Schizophrenia Allegedly Fathered 36 Children
Two Canadian women say they were told their donor had a genius IQ and was getting a PhD in neuroscience
When Angela Collins and Elizabeth Hanson of Port Hope, Canada, decided to have a child together, they thought they did everything right.
They chose Xytex, an Atlanta-based sperm bank, which seemed to have the best reputation of the three banks that Health Canada had approved, according to a lawsuit against Xytex filed by the couple’s attorney, Nancy Hersh of San Francisco.
They were told their donor, number 9623, had an IQ of 160, a bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience, a master’s degree in artificial intelligence and was working on his PhD in neuroscience, the suit says. The pair were also shown his photos as a child and as an adult.
Last June, thanks to an email erroneously sent to Collins and Hanson by the sperm bank that identified Donor 9623 as James Christian Aggeles, they found out almost none of that was true, the lawsuit claims.
They discovered “defendant Aggeles was schizophrenic, which is genetic and hereditary, thereby risking all of said donor’s offspring; that said defendant had dropped out of college and held no degree whatsoever; that said defendant Aggels had been charged with burglary and was an ex-felon; and that Aggeles’ photos had been doctored and a large mole on his cheek had been removed,” the suit says.
Aggeles has fathered 36 children, the suit claims. Hersh so far represents 15 of the mothers who bore 20 of those children, she says. She will be filing suit on behalf of all of them.
“It’s devastating to think you have children who may be impaired at some future time,” Hersh tells PEOPLE. “Put yourself in their place. You’re choosing a sperm donor and if the true facts had been disclosed they would not have selected this donor.”
Xytex Friday released a statement addressing the lawsuit.
“Xytex is reviewing and investigating the allegations asserted,” the statement says.
“A global industry leader of reproductive services that complies with FDA and other agency auditing annually, Xytex absolutely denies any assertion that it failed to comply with the highest standards for testing,” the statement says.
Aggeles could not be reached for comment but Carlos Rodriguez, his attorney for the 2005 burglary arrest, says he “is not a convicted felon” because he successfully completed Georgia’s first offender program.
“In Georgia, if you are sentenced under the first offender act and comply with all the terms at the end you are exonerated,” he says. “He’s actually a success story for having been rehabilitated.”
He would not comment on any of the other aspects of the case, including the details of the criminal charge.
Hersh says her clients’ reasons for going public are two-fold.
“They want to prevent this from recurring and encourage sperm banks and other fertility centers to do adequate investigation and research and have in place policies and procedures to prevent this from happening,” she says.
They also want to create a “medical monitoring fund” for their children should they show they be in danger of developing schizophrenia themselves.
“If they should be in that statistical percentage that develop a psychosis they can mitigate the development of a psychosis with adequate treatment before hand,” she says.