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Man Can Sue Woman For Sperm Theft Distress

Associated Press, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., Feb 24, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) A woman accused of using her lover's sperm to impregnate herself without his knowledge can be held liable for the unwitting father's emotional pain, the Illinois Appellate Court has ruled.

In the ruling released Wednesday, a three-judge panel reinstated part of a lawsuit against Sharon Irons, a doctor from Olympia Fields. The ruling sends the case back to Cook County Circuit Court.

Irons was sued by her former lover, Chicago family physician Richard O. Phillips, who accused her of a "calculated, profound personal betrayal" of him after a brief affair they had six years ago.

Phillips alleges that he and Irons, who practices internal medicine, never had intercourse during their four-month affair, although they did have oral sex three times.

His suit contends that Irons, without his knowledge, kept some of his semen and used it to impregnate herself.

The relationship ended when Phillips learned Irons had lied to him about being recently divorced and was, in fact, still married to another doctor, according to court documents.

Nearly two years later, Irons slapped Phillips with a paternity suit. DNA tests showed Phillips was indeed the father, court papers state.

Phillips was ordered to pay about $800 a month in child support, said Irons' attorney, Enrico Mirabelli.

Phillips then sued Irons, claiming her actions robbed him of sleep and caused him to have trouble eating. He is haunted by "feelings of being trapped in a nightmare," court papers state.

Irons responded that her alleged actions weren't "truly extreme and outrageous" and that Phillips' pain wasn't bad enough to merit a lawsuit. The circuit court agreed and dismissed Phillips' suit in 2003.

But the higher court ruled that, if Phillips' story is true, Irons "deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff's sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences."

But the judges agreed with the lower court's decision to dismiss fraud and theft claims against Irons.

They agreed with Irons' lawyers that she didn't steal the sperm.

"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift -- an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision said. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."

Irons has since divorced, Mirabelli said.

"There's a 5-year-old child here," Mirabelli said Thursday. "Imagine how a child feels when your father says he feels emotionally damaged by your birth."

Phillips is representing himself in the case. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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