Current Affairs

Sperm bank man gets 16 months for fraud

Tony Grew April 9, 2008
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John Gonzales, who ran online sperm bank catering mainly for lesbians and single women, has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.

He pled guilty to five offences including fraud, forgery and perjury and was also disqualified from acting as a company director for five years.

He was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court today following an investigation and prosecution by the Department for Business and Enterprise (BERR).

BERR Minister Pat McFadden said:

“The Government is determined to crack down on cheats who profit by deception.

“When someone lies about their assets they are effectively stealing from honest creditors who are owed money and who can suffer as a result.”

Gonzales was the founder of Ltd, which arranged for the delivery of fresh sperm to women registering with its website.

After initial financial success, the company entered liquidation in December 2004 with debts of more than £220,000.

Investigators found that Gonzales later lied to officials, forged documents and falsified debts in order to avoid handing over his assets and to continue trading under a different name.

Passing sentence, Her Honour Judge May QC said:

“Being a company director is a serious responsibility; people who abuse this position must expect to be punished.”

Thanks to a change in the law last year, it is illegal to procure, test, process or distribute sperm without a licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

New legislation before Parliament aims to make it easier for lesbian couples to access NHS fertilisation services.

At present there is no prohibition on licensed clinics treating same-sex couples or single women but the law requires that NHS fertility clinics take account of the “need for a father” when assessing women for treatment.

In practice this can lead to clinics deciding not to accept lesbians and those women instead using “DIY” methods in order to conceive.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill contains new rules that will allow gay and lesbian couples to become the legal parents of a child conceived through donated sperm and replaces the “need for a father” with “responsible parenting.”

The provisions also mean that lesbians will have equal access to fertility services, which could mean IVF but is much more likely to mean assisted conception.

At the moment if a lesbian couple have a baby, one partner has to formally adopt the child in order to be a parent, even if the child is conceived through a fertility clinic.

The new rules would mean that civil partners will automatically become the legal parents of the child, even if the child is conceived ‘informally’ ie: not through a clinic.

DIY sperm donation will still be legal but under the proposed laws the non-birth mother not in a civil partnership could not be on the birth certificate.

The advantages of using a fertility clinic mean that the donor is registered, and cannot be legally held responsible for the child’s welfare or upkeep.

His name does not appear on the birth certificate.

Details of the donor, such as his last known address, name and medical information are kept and can be shown to the child when he or she reaches 18, or before if the legal parents consent.

For men who may be asked by a lesbian friend to donate sperm, there is the legal reassurance that they can donate informally if they want, become a registered donor, and know that they will not be legally responsible for the child’s maintenance.

The legislation is facing opposition from religious figures, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown has allowed his MPs a free vote on the removal of the “need for a father” provisions.

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