A Facebook sperm donor fathered 15 children but never told the mothers he has an inheritable condition that causes learning disabilities.
James MacDougall, 37, fathered children with lesbian women through private donations advertised on social media despite knowing he had incurable Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that leads to low IQ and developmental delay.
MacDougall’s identity came out in a family court battle in Derby, United Kingdom, after he applied for parental responsibility and child arrangement orders for four of his children — even though he originally signed an agreement saying he didn’t want contact with some of his children.
The mothers of the children were opposed to the applications.
Derby Court Judge Justice Nathalie Lieven named MacDougall to stop other women from using him as a sperm donor and ruled he should not have any responsibility for the children as it would cause them harm.
The judge also forbade MacDougall from applying for a court order for the next three years due to his lack of insight into his conduct and because it would traumatize the mothers.
The court heard from one woman only identified as SW, 25, who got into contact with MacDougall after seeing his advertisement. Her children are now 3 and 2 years old.
SW’s 3-year-old child is nonverbal and has challenging behavior due to Fragile X syndrome.
After giving birth, SW contacted MacDougall, who visited often, according to the Mirror. She became pregnant with her second child while MacDougall lived at her home during the COVID-19 lockdown until she asked him to leave in June 2020.
SW claimed he made sexual comments toward her and showered with the baby at least twice. He was arrested in June 2020 for attacking her.
In a different court, MacDougall won a case allowing him to have regular contact with a boy he fathered who was born in July 2018.
The child returned with nonaccidental bruises, and Lieven adjourned the case until social services could get a report.
MacDougall went with private sperm donations because he knew he couldn’t go through a clinic with his condition, the court heard.
The judge had no confidence in MacDougall explaining to the mothers the implications of Fragile X syndrome.
“There is a very specific benefit in his being named in the hope that women will look him up on the internet and see this judgment,” the judge said after refusing his lawyer’s request for anonymity.
“The usual approach of anonymity in the family courts should not be used as a way for parents to behave in an unacceptable manner and then hide behind the cloak of anonymity.”
MacDougall’s adoptive parents, June and John, spoke to the Daily Mail in their son’s defense, claiming he is a “victim.”
“He is kindhearted and would do anything for anybody, but he is gullible,” June said.
“He didn’t seek any money, as far as we are aware, for providing that service, he just did it,” she added.
MacDougall was accused of taking advantage of the women’s desire to have children without any concern for the detrimental impact his condition would have on those families.