A man with a developmental genetic condition who offered his sperm to lesbian couples has been banned from contacting his offspring.
A U.K. family court judge ruled against James MacDougall, 37, after he advertised his sperm to lesbians online without informing them that he had fragile X syndrome, a condition that can cause developmental problems in children.
“I … take into account the fundamental irresponsibility of JM acting as a sperm donor whilst knowing that he had Fragile X Syndrome, an inheritable condition, without at the very least making it entirely clear to the mothers concerned the implications of Fragile X,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
While MacDougall acknowledged he had the condition in some of the legal agreements filed, he “took no steps to explain the condition to [the women] and no steps to ensure they understood. [He] took advantage of these young women’s vulnerability and their strong desire to have children,” the judge noted.
“This failure to take responsibility for his own condition and to have any apparent concern for the long-term impact both on the mothers and potentially the children is a factor in concluding that [he] should not be given parental responsibility for the children,” the judge concluded.
The judge singled out MacDougall by name, a practice that is not common in U.K. family courts, because there would be “a very specific benefit in him being named in the hope that women will look him up on the internet and see this judgment,” the judge ruled.
MacDougall said he placed an ad as a sperm donor on a social media page for lesbians seeking donors and signed agreements stating he did not want contact with some of the 15 children he fathered. However, he had applied through family court for parental responsibility or contact with four of his offspring, despite resistance from the children’s mothers.
Fragile X syndrome is a genetic condition that can cause developmental problems in children, including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. Doctors have expressed concerns about at least one of the children’s development, according to the Guardian. The child has been slow to speak and is “behaviorally challenging.”
There are also allegations of MacDougall abusing the children, with officials investigating claims that MacDougall caused bruises to at least one of them.