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Indy fertility doctor who used own sperm on patients pleads guilty to obstruction, gets no jail time

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A former Indiana doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate patients without their knowledge pleaded guilty to obstruction in the case Thursday and received no jail time.

FOX59 first broke the story in 2015. A woman who thought she was an only child approached our Angela Ganote after learning she had at least eight biological brothers and sisters.

In court this afternoon, Dr. Donald Cline, 79, pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice.

He was sentenced to 365 days, all of which were suspended. This means he will serve no jail time and will not be on probation. The maximum sentencing for two counts of obstruction of justice is about five years.

"Not only did Dr. Cline abuse his position of complete trust with his patients, his decisions will have lasting impact through generations of the impacted families," Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry stated after the sentence was announced. "There were significant limitations to how a criminal case could proceed against Dr. Cline, but ultimately he admitted to his actions and to intentionally misleading investigators."

Two of his biological children delivered victim impact statements. They were interrupted multiple times by the defense arguing that their statements were not relevant to the charges of obstruction.

One of his biological daughters, Jacoba Ballard, told the court Cline had no consideration for anyone but himself. She repeatedly stated that he lied. Ballard also told FOX59 that Cline threatened her after filing complaints against him to the attorney general's office.

Another one of Cline’s daughters took the stand as well. She told the court she’s spent “countless hours devoted to finding the truth.” In an emotional statement, the woman told the court she has lost all sense of identity.

A psychologist also took the stand to describe what he considered to be Cline’s mental state. The doctor noted that Cline has “adjustment disorder” and displays signs of depression because of the charges.

Cline then read a statement out loud. He admitted to using his own sperm on many patients, although he did not state specifically how many. He also admitted he lied to investigators.

“Out of fear, I acted alone and foolishly, I lied,” he said.

He claimed he was confused about the letter he received from the attorney general's office and would have had no idea who the women were who filed the complaints.

When questioned, Cline told attorneys that he lied to state investigators about fathering more than 20 children back in the '70s and '80s. He initially told investigators he never used his own sample, but DNA proved otherwise.

Cline later admitted he used his own sperm for insemination when a donor was unavailable and said it could have happened up to 50 times.

During sentencing, the judge noted Cline’s age as well as the fact that she felt he was truly remorseful.

He's not facing charges for using his own sample because there's no state law against it. Instead, he was charged for lying about what happened.

After a packed hearing, families members stated their disappointment that Cline will not spend any time behind bars.

Ballard said after the sentencing she doesn't think he's remorseful.

"When we met - myself and seven other siblings, or five other siblings - he was not remorseful and he sat there and said that he was. He still at that time could not admit to us how many times he had done it or anything else. When he read his letter today, and said he had apologized and was remorseful-- no," she said.

Family members said they were hopeful Cline would spend the maximum time behind bars to pay for the hurt he has caused them.

“There are many of us out here that he ruined our lives. My daughter thought she was my husbands. He ruined all that. I had to go home and tell my husband that he’s not the father of my child,” said Dianna Kiesler, the mother of a donor child.

At least six of his biological children were in court Thursday. Many of the children and their parents are working to get more laws that would prevent doctors like Cline from using their own sperm and lying to patients.

Liz White, a donor mother, said she was working with legislative committees on both fraud and sexual assault amendments.

Her son, Matt White, is a donor child. He said he understands what his mother went through and has had to pay thousands of dollars for infertility treatments in order to start his own family. For him, the fight is even closer to home.

“There’s no remorse. he knew what he was doing,” White said.

While he won’t serve any time behind bars, Cline will still have a felony conviction on his record.

Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Tim Delaney said the felony conviction “conveys the seriousness of the offense.”

Because Cline pleaded guilty and did not accept a plea deal, he will have the opportunity to appeal.​ It's unlikely he would appeal though, due to the fact that he did not receive jail time.