INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — Two women who were among the nearly 100 children fathered without consent by a former Indianapolis fertility doctor are suing the makers of the Netflix documentary “Our Father.” They say the film revealed their secrets to millions of viewers without their permission.
According to the complaint, the unidentified plaintiffs are two of the many secret children fathered by Dr. Donald Cline, the former fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate Indiana women while lying to them about the source of the donor. The lies of Dr. Cline, brought to light by a WXIN investigation, became more wildly known after the release of “Our Father” on Netflix on May 11.
The complaint alleges that neither the plaintiffs nor their families knew that they were secret children of Dr. Cline until they took at-home DNA tests in 2019. After learning of this shocking origin, both plaintiffs chose to keep their revelations private, electing not to disclose their true origins.
According to the complaint, the makers of “Our Father” reached out to several of the children to ask if they would be willing to be filmed on camera or submit photos of themselves. The complaint states a producer made it clear that none of the secret children would be identified in the documentary without his or her explicit consent.
The complaint alleges the producer wrote a message that in part stated, “I know that some of you were more comfortable than others being involved (in the documentary)… you will not be identified (unless you’ve already given us explicit permission to do so…”
Despite this pledge, the complaint states that both plaintiffs were shown in the documentary during a scene when photographs were displayed that showed images of the secret children and listed both their names while stating they were a “match.” The complaint went on to say that several other secret children had their photographs and names blurred, but this protection was not given to the plaintiffs.
The complaint argues both Netflix and Blumhouse Productions are at fault for breaking their pledge and identifying the plaintiffs despite neither providing consent. The reveal has caused the plaintiffs “severe harm,” the complaint says, including, but not limited to “reputational injury, distress, embarrassment, and emotional trauma.”
Clips of the scene identifying the plaintiffs were also used on social media accounts, the complaint said, further revealing their identities to hundreds of thousands.
Both women are seeking financial compensation in the form of damages.