After a man found out he had a surprise 2-year-old son that supposedly came out of the blue, he engaged in a bitter and protracted legal battle against the boy’s mother.
In 2005, Dr. Richard O. Phillips was in court to claim for damages as he accused a woman of “stealing” his sperm to impregnate herself.
Unfortunately, the appeals court ruled that he couldn’t claim for theft because his sperm was a “gift” and that when he “delivered” his sperm, it was “an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee”, according to NBC.
Phillips was successful, however, in claiming for emotional distress when the defendant, Dr. Sharon Irons performed a “calculated, profound personal betrayal”.
He thought that it would be a one-off deal when he had oral sex with Irons, little did he know it would haunt him 2 years later in the form of an offspring.
After the DNA results confirmed his paternity of the bouncing baby boy, Philips sued Irons, the first time being in 2003. However, the lower court dismissed his claims and sided with Iron’s defence stating that it was close to impossible for her to steal his sperm.
An unwelcome surprise and deceptive contraception
The discovery of the child apparently caused Phillips “feelings of being trapped in a nightmare”, and he reportedly could not sleep and eat.
In 2005, the higher court ordered Phillips to pay $800 in child support while backing the decision that was made in 2003.
However, the appeal’s court added that if Phillip’s claims were true, Irons “deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff’s sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences”.
Yikes, we’re still waiting for the Netflix documentary. But until then, read all the juicy court notes here.
In 2019, it may be a different story
In Singapore, deceptive contraception or more colloquially known as “stealthing” is indeed a criminal offence as of May 6, 2019. Although this is directly referring to the act of removing or damaging a condom during sex without consent, it may also stand ground in the case of “sperm-theft” for men too in the future.
As new laws were passed in parliament as part of a major bid of Penal Code reform, other emerging sexual offences that coincide with technology and social media have been included in the list.
“Cyber flashing”, revenge pornography and voyeurism are now criminalised and punishable for up to a maximum of 2 to 5 years, whereas voyeurs if persecuted, may face the cane.
As other cases involving consent will be further explored, Singapore’s new bill comes about 14-years-too-late for Dr. Phillips’ case. However, we’d like to assume he and his son have had more than enough time to engage in some father-son bonding time by now.