6 questions with star of documentary on fertility doc who inseminated patients with his sperm

Netflix's 'Our Father' premieres May 11
Posted at 12:18 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 18:55:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Jacoba Ballard was expecting to find a sibling or two when she took an at-home DNA test back in 2014. Instead, she discovered that a Zionsville fertility doctor had used his own sperm to artificially inseminate her mother and dozens of other patients.

The Putnam County, In., woman later discovered that Dr. Donald L. Cline had used his own sperm on more patients, siring dozens of children, all without the patient's consent or knowledge.

Ballard's relentless crusade to expose the truth is now the subject of the new Netflix documentary "Our Father," which starts streaming on May 11.

WRTV asked Ballard, 41, about her many half-siblings, her fight for justice and what is was like to star in a documentary.

Jacoba Ballard's family tree.

Question: I know you’ve told this story many times over by now. But can you take us back to 2014 and tell us again about the DNA test that led you to discover Dr. Cline was your biological father?

Ballard: I went into taking a DNA test thinking I would maybe find one or two siblings, if I’m lucky, and possibly my biological father or other biological or genetic family. Other than finding potential siblings, I didn’t really expect much.

Question: What was it like being interviewed and featured in the ‘Our Father’ documentary?

Ballard: Being a part of "Our Father" was absolutely amazing. Director Lucie Jourdan and Producer Michael Petralla made the whole interview and reenactment process so comfortable. It was also, in a way, a feeling of getting justice. I felt like the state of Indiana and the attorney general’s office had failed all our families with no charges except for obstruction of justice. I never want this to happen to anyone else.

I remember my last day filming in California. The set was so quiet you could hear a pin drop as everyone there listened intently to what I said, and after I felt a rush and cried. I cried because I knew that this documentary was going to bring awareness to so many people around the world and, it was also at that moment I realized that not only did Lucie and Michael tell our story, they helped me heal during the process. They will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Jacoba Ballard in the Netfix documentary "Our Father."

Question: What did you learn about yourself or your situation through this documentary?

Ballard: What I learned about myself is that no matter what happens, I am strong enough to overcome it. I also learned that I can be that voice for others. I will never stop fighting for or advocating for those from fertility fraud, donor conception and those that have been victims of sexual assault. I will say it was shocking to see some people that I really cared about who chose not to support me when I started this journey. but I gained some amazing people to fight and advocate with and for me.

Question: How many of your siblings are out there? How many have you met? What is your relationship like with them?

Ballard: We are close to 90 or maybe a little over (the documentary reported that 94 siblings have been discovered so far). There are a handful that prefer not to be involved and do not want a relationship. As for relationships, some are like acquaintances and some we have a full brother and/or sister relationship. I do believe it is harder with us not growing up together and not knowing until adulthood which made this harder. Many of us try to get together at least once or twice a year.

Question: Dr. Cline was sentenced in 2017 to obstruction of justice but served no jail time. What did you think of the sentence? Do you believe this sentence was just?

Ballard: I think the State of Indiana really failed our family. By family I mean all mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. I think everyone involved was too lenient. I am personally very curious about what the sentences were like for other people who have been faced with the same charges.

Question: After this case, Indiana lawmakers made it illegal for a fertility doctor to use his own sperm to inseminate patients. What role if any did you have in that legislation? What are your thoughts on the law today?

Ballard: It honestly first started with me probably driving an Indiana state senator crazy... I will always be thankful. I remember when we had so many senators wanting to add themselves as co-chairs, that’s when I knew we had a chance.

I am so proud of that law. I do think there can be some improvements made though. For starters, making it retroactive as well as enhancing some of the penalties.

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Dr. Donald Cline.

More: Victims hopeful new law will protect against fertility fraud | Fertility doctor gets no jail time for lying about using his own sperm | Netflix documentary "Our Father" unravels twisted story of Zionsville fertility doctor

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.