A New York fertility specialist and OB-GYN who was embroiled in a fertility fraud scandal that saw him accused of using his own sperm to inseminate patients was killed in a plane crash Sunday.
Dr. Morris Wortman, 72, was a passenger in a homemade aircraft that apparently came apart in flight and crashed to the ground shortly before 5:45 p.m. in Orleans County, about an hour west of Rochester.
Wortman, Pilot Both Killed in Crash
The plane – a fixed-wing, hand-built experimental aircraft – crashed in a pasture behind a house in the small town of Ridgeway, according to the sheriff's office. Aircraft parts were scattered around the area, according to WIVB television in Buffalo. The pilot, 70-year-old Earl J. Luce Jr. of Brockport, also died in the crash, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office said.
A preliminary investigation showed that "the wings of the aircraft became detached from the fuselage and fell to the ground in an orchard," Orleans County Sheriff Christopher Bourke said in a news release. The fuselage of the aircraft continued west for another 1,000 to 1,500 yards before crashing. Deputies and the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.
Wortman's Fertility Fraud
Wortman was a prominent Rochester doctor who first became the focus of news stories in the 1990s as an abortion provider often targeted by anti-abortion activists.
Over the past 18 months, Wortman has been accused of using his own sperm to inseminate women who came to him in the 1980s for fertility treatment − a practice often called "fertility fraud" in cases when the physician lies about the source of the sperm.
He was sued in 2021 by the daughter of one of his patients, who became pregnant in the 1980s. The lawsuit said the doctor secretly used his own sperm while telling the patient the donor had been a local medical student. It said the doctor kept the secret even after the daughter, his biological offspring, became his gynecology patient.
The daughter discovered that Wortman was the donor after DNA genealogy tests revealed she had at least nine half-siblings, her medical malpractice suit said. The civil lawsuit, which is pending in Monroe County Court, said follow-up DNA testing with Wortman's daughter from his first marriage confirmed the genetic link.
In some cases, according to claims against him, Wortman told patients that he was using the sperm of others; in other instances he allegedly said that he was mixing the sperm from a husband with other sperm to help boost fertility. In none of these cases did Wortman reveal he was using his own sperm, according to interviews of multiple adults who accused him with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.