INDIANAPOLIS — “Our Father,” the long awaited documentary on an Indiana fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate his patients, is now available to view on Netflix.
The story behind “Our Father” may have never gone public in the way that it has without a woman reaching out to FOX59’s Angela Ganote seven years go.
That’s when Jacoba Ballard told Ganote she learned she had at least seven biological siblings she had never known about after taking an at-home DNA test.
Ganote helped prove that Indianapolis’ own Dr. Donald Cline used his sperm to impregnate Ballard’s mother and those of her seven siblings.
To date, the number of donor children has grown to 94.
The part Angela Ganote played
Ganote herself appears in the documentary, and she is sharing more about the role she played in making the story public.
“Jacoba [Ballard] actually sent me a message on Facebook, and that’s how a lot of people reach out to us,” Ganote began. “When she reached out, not only did she say, ‘Hey, could you look into this?’ She came to me with a lot of evidence. The evidence was that she was related to Dr. Cline. Now we had to figure out a way to actually prove it and to be able to put it on television and to make claims against a very well-known prominent doctor.”
Ganote says from the start of the investigation, she knew it was possible the eight siblings were just the tip of the iceberg.
“From the beginning, we said Donald Cline told everyone once we first started talking to him that he only provided his sperm three times. When you knew from the very beginning that there were seven siblings — eight in all. If he lied from three to eight and then to under 50, you have to wonder how high would the number go?”
During the investigation, Ganote says she kept reaching out to the state attorney general at the time, Greg Zoeller, to find out what was going on with their end of the investigation. She recalls feeling ignored due to all the “no comment” and unanswered emails.
According to Ganote, the attorney general’s office sent Cline a questionnaire as part of their investigation. She says Cline lied on it and later admitted his dishonesty to her. That’s what spurred her to go to the Marion County prosecutor.
“One thing we do know as journalists, if you lie to an investigator — that’s supposed to be a big deal. So I said, ‘Do you not even care that he’s lying to you?’ At that point, the Marion County prosecutor’s office finally kind of said, ‘Oh well, maybe we do care.'”
Recorded phone call and a meeting at Panera
Ganote says at one point, Jacoba Ballard recorded a phone call with Donald Cline.
In the call, he claimed FOX59 was “making” him talk in order to boost ratings.
“As a journalist, if I’m going to tell a story about someone, and I’m going to say things that you did — I want to hear from you. I want you to tell me why. I want you to tell me that I’m wrong. I want you to make sure that your voice is heard too.”
That’s why the two agreed to meet at the Panera on W. 86th Street in Traders Point, a moment you see reenacted in “Our Father.”
According to Ganote, Cline walked into the restaurant with a gun on him and said, “They don’t allow guns in here, do they?”
She commented, “It was such a weird thing for him to say. Out of all the things he could have said to me — to talk about a gun at a restaurant.”
Ganote was able to watch the full documentary ahead of the public release and had high praise for the piece.
“It gave the voice to the siblings that have wanted to be heard for seven years, and they felt like they hadn’t [been heard.] And they felt like they didn’t get justice. For them, this has been powerful.”
Ganote also interviewed Ballard, donor sibling Heather Woock, director Lucie Jourdan, producer Michael Petrella, about the documentary. You can see an in-depth account of that interview here.