Illinois Court Rules Man Can Sue Over Deceptive Use of Sperm By Girlfriend To Impregnate Herself

We have been following a series of paternity cases (here and here and here and here) where courts have rejected claims of lack of consent or knowledge by a parent in forcing child support payments. I just ran over a case that, while now a bit dated, is remarkable. The case involves a Chicago doctor who was forced to pay child support after his girlfriend, without his knowledge, saved sperm from oral sex and arranged to be impregnated with it. The case came to public attention after an appellate court ruled that Dr. Richard O. Phillips could sue Dr. Sharon Irons for emotional distress in the case.

Here are the facts:

During their relationship, the parties discussed the possibility of having children only after they married. Plaintiff informed defendant he did not wish to have children prior to marriage, and intended to use a condom if and when they engaged in sexual intercourse. Defendant understood and agreed. During the entire course of their relationship, the parties engaged in intimate sexual acts three times, with two of those times occurring on the same date. Vaginal penetration never occurred; the parties engaged only in acts of oral sex. Defendant told plaintiff she did not want to have sexual intercourse due to her menses. On or around February 19, 1999, and March 19, 1999, defendant “intentionally engaged in oral sex with [plaintiff] so that she could harvest [his] semen and artificially inseminate herself,” and “did artificially inseminate herself.”

Plaintiff’s complaint alleged further that in May of 1999, defendant confessed to plaintiff that she still was married to her former husband, Dr. Adebowale Adeleye. She told plaintiff she planned to get a divorce, and showed him a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,” which was filed on May 20, 1999. In the petition, defendant swore she was not pregnant. The parties’ relationship terminated in May of 1999, upon plaintiff learning defendant was not divorced.

On November 21, 2000, defendant filed a “Petition to Establish Paternity and Other Relief” against plaintiff, claiming she and plaintiff had a sexual relationship eight to ten months before the birth of defendant’s daughter, Serena, on December 1, 1999. DNA tests have confirmed plaintiff is Serena’s biological father.

In the circuit court below, Kathy M. Flanagan ruled that Irons conduct was not so extreme and outrageous to sustain a legal action by Phillips. That court was reversed after the appellate court ruled that 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.”

While ruling that the emotional distress claim could go forward, the court ruled that he could not allege theft because the sperm technically belonged to Dr. Irons. Phillips alleged that Irons committed “calculated, profound personal betrayal” when she used the sperm to produce offspring. He found out about the deception two years after the child was born and tests confirmed that he was the father after paternity tests. He was ordered to pay $800 a month in child support.

What is interesting is that it is intentional infliction of emotional distress as opposed to negligent infliction. To meet that standard, he must show (1) extreme and outrageous conduct; (2) intention to inflict severe emotional distress, or know that there is at least a high probability that it will cause severe emotional distress; and (3) severe emotional distress. The court found:

Under these circumstances, even if defendant intended to accomplish only conception and procreation, she knew there was at least a high probability that her manner of so doing would inflict severe emotional distress on plaintiff. According to plaintiff, defendant was aware of his desire to have children only after marriage. Further, plaintiff believed defendant could not become pregnant, not only due to the nature of the sexual acts, but because he believed she was infertile at the time as a result of her menstrual cycle. Months later, however, defendant informed plaintiff he fathered her child. From these facts, if proved, it may be inferred reasonably that defendant knew manipulating plaintiff into unwittingly conceiving a child out of wedlock would inflict severe emotional distress. Further, contrary to defendant’s assertion, plaintiff is not claiming the act of filing the paternity suit itself caused him severe emotional distress; it was the result of defendant’s actions in their entirety.

The court agreed with Irons that she could not be charged with conversion since “there was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request, or where the transaction did not create a bailment, a claim for conversion cannot be sustained.”

I also found the court’s holding on fraudulent misrepresentation to be interesting. It rejected the claim because ‘[]the tort of fraudulent misrepresentation historically has been limited to cases involving business or financial transactions where plaintiff has suffered a pecuniary harm . . . it is an economic tort under which one may recover only monetary damages. Neurosurgery, 339 Ill. App. 3d at 186. Therefore, plaintiff may not recover on allegations of physical and emotional distress.” However, this fraud did cause financial harm given the paternity award against Phillips.

I also do not understand the basis for child support when the pregnancy was achieved artificially and without his consent or knowledge.

I have not been able to locate the current status of this case after the remand. The last published opinion was Phillips v. Irons, 354 Ill. App. 3d 1164, 2005 Ill. App. LEXIS 1807 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2005)

Jonathan Turley

112 thoughts on “Illinois Court Rules Man Can Sue Over Deceptive Use of Sperm By Girlfriend To Impregnate Herself”

  1. In result of deception , I was forced to become a biological father.
    This tragedy has happened to me personally a long time ago , I rejected it then with every thing that I had ,(still do even more strongly) and yet due to to it’s very sever sensitive and critical social nature, I was forced to swallow it , pay for it , and live with it along with it’s constant agonizing nightmares and it’s unbelievable torments to the mind and to the soul which ended up literally ruining my whole life.
    Now , I have decided to write about it and take the war further. To me , it is a matter of principle. who knows ; perhaps someone else might benefit from the experience .,
    I need information about how to go about this or deal with it , I need to talk about it, may be I could come up with some sort of a logic that could at least convince myself that taking this very sensitive case any farther will do me and society good. Thank you

    PS : This case did not take place in the USA, nor either party involved is a US citizen .

  2. In result of deception I was forced to become a biological father.
    Is there a group , society or any sort of professional social foundation that I could get in touch with in this regards . Thanks in advamce

  3. There’s something about this case I find utterly confusing, and I hope someone can help me out: was Phillips ever able to prove that Irons did, in fact, take his sperm without his knowledge or his consent and artificially inseminate herself?

  4. That sounds awful Chris. Truly abhorrent behaviour. My wife did almost exactly what the article described. Having informed her I was not ready for a second child after a miscarriage caused (in my opinion) by the breakdown of our marriage, she first stabbed up our condoms, insisted on sex with the lights out and I only noticed afterwards and then took a freshly used, tied off condom from its wrappings in 16 sheets of toilet roll in the bathroom bin and inseminated herself. It is not yet known if she is pregnant but, if so, what am I supposed to do? I am furious, depressed and suffering lack of sleep, emotional draining and stress symptoms but, if she is pregnant, what’s a man to do and how will it effect our existing daughter to adapt to a new baby, her parents not getting on AND the fact Daddy is furious at Mummy for turkey-basting herself and getting pregnant?

  5. I have a situation going on right now that is completely the oppisite. My wife of almost two years and I have been tryign to have a baby for 18 months. Every month that she was a day late (she tracked on her iphone) we would take a pregnancy test. every month it came back negative and we would console each other and promise to try the next month.

    Finally, in August, she was pregnant. However, she was six days late when she hinted she needed a test (instead of the typical one day late), and took a test without me for the first time. She actually told two friends before telling me and told me in the middle of a fight.

    One of the “friends” she told is key, but I’ll get back to that.

    A week later she went to the ER with pain in her sides. They diagnosed her with cysts on her ovaries. At this time she informs me, that after 18 months of trying, due to these cysts and the fears she now has about the baby (she had a son from a previous marriage with cerebral palsey) that she was going to abort this baby.

    EIGHTTEEN MONTHS of trying and crying and she tells me this because of cysts. A few days later, she was drinking and informed me its “her goddamn decision, its her goddamn body, and I have no say in what she does”

    She aborts the baby.

    A couple weeks roll by and she leaves her computer open. Her work email is there in plain sight. I look at it and dated the night she went to the doctor for the cysts, she sends an email to a coworker “friend” that she has feelings for him, the email is clear that they at least made out at some point in time, and discussed the fact that she was pregnant and would “reevaluate their relationship once this pregnancy is taken care of”. It is so obvious she aborted for him, not her health.

    So while dealing with the depression and remorse from her kiling my kid for what i THOUGHT was medical reasons, I find out the truth. She misled me for 18 months, finally got pregnant, and killed my kid with me having no say, so she could be with someone else. She is one dirty, babykilling, evil woman.

  6. Hello…Does anyone have Dr. Richard Phillips contact information? I am currently going through a similar situation were a woman drugged and raped me of my sperm to enpregnant herself. Now I’m getting hit with Child Support for a child I did not help create. It feels good knowing my story isnt the only one that exist. So if anyone knows Dr.Richard Phillips please send me his contact information.

  7. hypothetical scenario: so i’m feeling a bit randy, but i find myself without a partner with whom to share my arousal – so i pop a copy of “Debbie does Dishes” into the entertainment center and pleasure myself into yesterday’s classified ads. but i’m an enlightened member of the 21st century, and i know there are people out there with nothing better to do than hunt down my sperm so that they might impregnate themselves and/or unwitting females for their own nefarious reasons – so i douse my legion of pollywogs with bleach and weed killer and antifreeze, and scoop the resulting milkshake into the bowl and flush it away – so far so good? ooh, but a singular blob has escaped my housekeeping – and tomorrow, while i’m at the office, the maid comes in and finds my “gift” hiding inside the decorative bathroom trash recepticle. she has been hoping for this exact moment for years, so she eagerly swabs it up with a stiff index finger and crams it deep into her moist folds — and soon has a horrible reaction to the chemical bath that surrounded the ill-gotten seed, and rushes to the hospital

    hypothetical question: can i be accused of assault (as i prepared my goo with the foreknowlege that it would probably end up being used for its natural purpose) ???

  8. @ contraoestatutodonascituro

    Ya’ know, I had a whole argument lined up until I read what you said to Cdub, you hope someone levies a false rape claim against him? What kind of person are you? I’m asking seriously, why would a feminist wish something so vile against another person? For as damaging as rape is for women, a false rape claim is just as bad from the ruination of that accused man’s life and reputation to jail time if the lie isn’t caught where he runs the possibility of actually being raped himself. Are you so low as a “human being” that you wish for something like that? What if it was your brother or father that had a false rape claim levied upon them? Would you be so cheerful for it and why did you wish that, because you were in an argument with Cdub, someone you’ll never meet, over the internet? You could’ve just not responded but you let something to trivial be the reason to wish harm upon another person.

    1. @Jack’s Sperm: I don’t HOPE someone makes a false rape claim against him, I would never wish that on someone (maybe I would, but they’d have to be a complete monster – a pedophile, a serial killer, not some guy on the internet with a penchant for saying stupid things) I said that, since he makes a mockery out of rape victims claiming there are a lot of advantages in saying you’d been raped (when, in reality, rape survivors face a wide array of problems, from not being able to get health insurance, since being a rape survivor is a ”pre-existing condition” to not being allowed to live in college campuses, since the Uni is afraid they’re going to get raped again and sue, to having their whole life exposed in the media so ppl can claim they deserved their rape – and when I brought up REAL cases, he just said ”there are rape shield laws”, which had nothing to do with the subject), since he makes a mockery of possible real rape victims like the women in the Assange case and the Strauss-Kahn case, claiming they’re liars based on….what? the alleged rapist’s word? then I wished for a world where rape victims would actually have credibility and, since Cdub proved to be the kind of guy who’s DANGEROUS to rape victims (a man who claims a woman hasn’t been raped just because the alleged rapist said he didn’t do it shows he doesn’t trust women’s words. What if a family member, a friend, a co-worker, of his says she was raped? All is gonna take is the guy saying ”I didn’t do it” for him to treat that woman as a liar? What if he has a job – like campus staff or security guard in a club – where he has to take care of a situation involving rape? Wil he even give the alleged victim the time of day?) that made my blood boil, and I said that maybe, in that made-up word of his where all a woman has to do is saying ”I was raped” to put some inocent man in jail (when the reality is people have refused to prosecute cases where the rapist CONFESSED or have refused to send men to jail because the victim was dressed ”provocative”, when the reality is a lot of rapes aren’t even prosecuted…and how the hell is a conviction rate of only 6% consistent with his argument?!) I wish he would be falsely accused so he can learn some humility. Maybe then he would know how it feels to have every one doubt your word, say your word is worth less than the word of another person.

      He annoyed me because I was bringing up FACTS against his fairytale world where a woman can send a man to jail by just saying she’s being abused. I said there are places wanting to decriminalize domestic violence, so how the hell is that crime taken oh so seriously? Did he counter my argument? No, his only reply was that women do suffer domestic violence, but a lot of them lie abt it, so those places are justified, because it’s expensive to prosecute those cases. That’s not ”trivial”. That’s a man so locked into his ”women are evil liars” mentality that he thinks it’s okay to let men beat their wives with no punishment whatsoever, because there are a lot of wicked women out there making things up to send their husbands to jail. So, yes, I was ticked off enough to wish this man a hypothetical suffering in a world that doesn’t even exist. Sue me.

      A false rape claim ruins a man’s reputation?! How was Assange’s reputation ruined? How was Kobe Bryant’s reputation ruined? Hell, even Strauss-Kahn wife didn’t leave him! (and, in the very least, he tried to cheat on her) The cheerleader who was told to cheer for her alleged rapist..the night of the alleged rape, she was locked in a room with 3 men, started screaming and banging on the door, other ppl forced the door open, found her naked and crying, and the guy jumping off the window…so there’s a little more evidence than ”he-said-she-said”…well, HE still plays for the footbal team, while SHE was ostracized and told by the school staff to not go to the capheteria. We DON’T take rape seriously as a society. There were a lot of ppl saying things like ”But even if Assange did damage his condom on purpuose or even if he had sex with a woman while she was asleep, it’s not a big deal”. This is how much we care for women’s wishes, for their health, their physical integrity.

      What I ”wished” on Cdub doesn’t happen in our world. A woman would have to be a master criminal to be able to get him falsely prosecuted for rape, and to make his reputation suffer in any way that counts. (and no, obviously I DON’T wish for a master criminal to do that to him)

  9. With your argument that everytime someone engages in sexual activity of any kind they should expect at the very least pregnancy could happen and they should both hold themselves responsible. Therefore as soon as the woman decided to spread her legs she knew what the possible outcome could be. To not go thru with the pregnancy and murder and unborn child is irresponsible as it gets. A woman’s right to choose happened when she opened her legs, and that choice was a child if it happens.

    By the way you can go fuck yourself now. I’ve heard about enough from you especially the bit about you wishing someone to accuse me of rape so I can learn some true “humility”. That’s about one of the most fucked up things anyone has ever said to me. Would you give me the time of day if I had said I wished you would have some guy rape you so you would learn some humility. You think you are reasonable. Fuck you!

  10. @Cdub: If you read bother to read what I sent you, you’d have read this:

    This was taken off of the NIH (National Institue of Health) website, so it is impartial and neither pro or anti abortion. It is simply medical fact.

    and this:

    In addition, experts in ultrasonography and film technology have concluded that the videotape of the abortion was deliberately slowed down and subsequently speeded up to create an impression of hyperactivity.

    But hey, I bet the ppl at the NIH and the videotape experts are all lying babykillers.

  11. It’s cool that you all get to dress it up nice and neat and pretend that you aren’t really doing anything bad, immoral. I bet it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside that you all can justify killing infants to yourselves. Oh even cooler, a pro-choice website, I love neutral! Awesome link, haha.

  12. Seriously I would really like to know where it is in the great USofA which States it is legal to rape your wife. I do not fucking know. Please, enlighten me already!!!!!

    Awesome, so now because I don’t agree with what you have to say (freedom of speech means nothing to you) you want the full force of the government to reign down on my head and teach me listen. Typical femtwat, needs government intervention to shut up her critics. Critics be damned!

    Awesome, while I don’t agree with you on much of anything, I’m not advocating that you be silenced via the state and removed from society like apparantly I should be in your eyes, all for stating your opinoin.

    Sooner or later the truth comes right out of a femi-fascist’s mouth. And to think I was actually feeling a little sorry for some of the names I called you earlier, lol. I guess that’s just that old chilvary nature that men naturally have for women, but you are all doing a good job of killing that with your daily contempt for anything male.

    The fact of the matter is it really wouldn’t be that hard for any woman/girl, anywhere in the West, to make any claim of rape or D/V on any men, and all the while that guy’s life will be turned upside down on her word alone. That is as evil as it gets, and why men are bowing out of this fucked up society. You have no fucking clue. Pathetic.

  13. She fucking blew him, he did not engage in sexual activity which leads to pregnancy. So if a guy jacks off at home, and a woman just shows up and steals his cum slop and decides to knock herself up with it, he’s on the hook again? Even if he didn’t decide to have any sexual relations with her? Or is the line drawn at sexual contact with another? Since he had sexual activity (isn’t jacking off/fingering sexual) then he ran the risk of pregnancy, any activity at all? Surely there are no crazy women out there that would do this though, lol.

    I do see your point, but it is really fucked up to say that this guy is on the hook for this.

    When was the last time feminists were concerned with morality? Do you really want to go down that road? I mean a woman’s right to choose trumps everyone else’s rights. Then again a fetus isn’t a person though right? Ever watch the Silent Scream video?

    With your argument that everytime someone engages in sexual activity of any kind they should expect at the very least pregnancy could happen and they should both hold themselves responsible. Therefore as soon as the woman decided to spread her legs she knew what the possible outcome could be. To not go thru with the pregnancy and murder and unborn child is irresponsible as it gets. A woman’s right to choose happened when she opened her legs, and that choice was a child if it happens.

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