Who is Jacoba Ballard?
Following the 23andme DNA test, Ballard discovered she was one of 90 (and counting) siblings. And that together, they are the biological children of Dr. Donald Cline. For nearly a decade, Cline had inseminated women who came to him with fertility issues (often in desperation) with his own sperm. And he never told them.
In May 2022, Netflix released their acclaimed documentary on the story, titled Our Father. It follows Jacoba Ballard and several of her half-siblings in their re-telling of how they sought justice against Cline. But ultimately, were they successful?
Why did Cline skip jail?
Dr. Cline opened his clinic in Indianapolis, Indiana, 1979. He’s believed to have used his own sperm in practice until 1986, but the exact time frame isn’t certain. Patients assert that Cline had told them the sperm came from anonymous medical volunteers. According to Our Father, it took six of the half-siblings to come together and confront Cline decades later, for him to admit using his own sperm.
But even with a confession, the authorities struggled to charge Cline with his crimes. The state of Indiana, where this scandal unfolded, doesn’t have a specific law under which his acts could be considered a sexual violation. This, paired with his status in the community, meant that Cline was never charged with sexual assault, as many believe he should have been.