The Faculty Lounge blog has a long (but riveting!) account of the very strange story of Tom Lippert. One of its many aspects echoes of the story of Cecil Jacobson (Dr. Jacobson was awarded the 1992 Ig Nobel Prize in biology for devising a simple, single-handed method of quality control. [REFERENCE: "The Babymaker : Fertility Fraud and the Fall of Dr. Cecil Jacobson"]). Here are skimpy highlights from the Faculty Lounge account:
From the truth is (a lot) stranger than fiction files comes this disturbing story, which interweaves—in ways that would be deemed implausible, if they appeared in a fiction manuscript—several of the topics I’ve written about here before: legal academia, human subjects research (sort of), reproductive technologies, direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, and preference heterogeneity…. The couple, it turns out, had had difficulty conceiving, and in 1991 had sought the help of Reproductive Medical Technologies, a fertility clinic associated with the University of Utah…. Admittedly, discovering that someone in the fertility clinic substituted his sperm for the husband-client’s is slightly more fantastical, but hardly unheard of in the real world. Tom’s mother, still living, consented to genetic testing, which confirmed that Tom was indeed the daughter’s biological father. What happens next, however, reads like the kind of fantastical plot elements that would get a fiction manuscript tossed….
The family discovers, through Tom’s mother and some Internet sleuthing, that Tom had lived a most improbable life, even before getting into the semen substitution business:
Tom had been a brilliant law student at Notre Dame Law School and had gone on to a promising early career as a law professor at Southwest State College. However all that changed, when at 25, he was accused of hatching a bizarre plan to kidnap a young Purdue student and hold her as a prisoner in a “love experiment”. The student was reportedly kept in a black box and subjected to electric shock therapy in an attempt to brainwash her into falling in love with Tom.…
BONUS: The Salt Lake City Tribune‘s 2014 account of recent developments: “Report: Utah kidnapper is woman’s father due to semen switch”
BONUS: People magazine’s 1975 account of an early part of the story: ”Was Susan Cochran Kidnapped or Merely Being Wooed in a Strange Courtship?“