How an Indy reporter’s story became a Netflix documentary

Midwest

Indianapolis reporter Angela Ganote broke the story of former fertility doctor Donald Kline that has sparked a hit Netflix documentary.

(NewsNation) — Fertility patients’ worst nightmare came true in Indianapolis, where former fertility doctor Donald Kline used his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients without their consent over a seven-year period, fathering nearly 100 children in the process.

Kline’s bizarre and horrifying story was laid out in a new Netflix documentary titled “Our Father,” which documents not just his behavior, but also the lives of some of the nearly 100 children he fathered.

The story and subsequent hit documentary would not have been possible without work done by Indianapolis Fox 59 reporter Angela Ganote, whose willingness to listen to one of Kline’s secret children broke the story wide open.

Ganote joined NewsNation “Rush Hour” to talk with Nichole Berlie about how this story came together and the aftermath of her reporting.

Nichole Berlie : Take us back to when you first started investigating.

Angela Ganote: It was February of 2015 and just like a lot of us do, I logged on to Facebook, and we as you know get a ton of messages, and I had a message from Jacoba Ballard, and what was interesting about Jacoba is she was very detailed.

From the moment I read through what she had and what she was telling me, I knew I had to talk to her and meet her in person. Really it was within days that I was able to meet her and another sibling and the evidence that she brought me … it was startling and I knew I needed to look into it further.

Q: What was your initial reaction to that? When you saw this and it really started to unfold, what were you thinking?

A: In the very beginning, what really got me was she said ‘our moms were told that the donor sperm that was being used, the sperm would never be used more than three times.’ So immediately when she came to me she showed me she had seven siblings. So from right there we said, ‘well, we know that’s a lie, he’s lying.’ We had talked to Dr. Kline, or she had, and we knew that he was saying he only used it three times and there are seven … what does that mean and how far could it go?

We joked to say “is there any way that someday this could be 100?” We were being facetious at the time, thinking it was maybe going to be 20 or 30, but here we are now at almost 100.

Q. You guys really do amazing reporting in Indianapolis, but how did we get from that to a top 10 Netflix documentary?

A: That goes to just show you the care and the passion that the producer and the director had in this. I’ve gotten to know them over the four years of working on this film. Not a lot, obviously. I did several interviews with them but they would call and ask me a question or two here or there, but both of them, Michael Petrella and Lucie Jourdan, both of them basically put their life on hold.

When they saw what happened, they felt too that these women and these mothers and sons and daughters, and the fathers too, that they did not get justice and they wanted to at least allow them to have a voice.

Q: We know Dr. Kline did not agree to be part of (the documentary), but you met with the doctor, no cameras, just you and Dr. Kline. What was going through your mind in that one-on-one? Were you concerned at all about your safety?

A: We knew that he was desperate, he had told me that for more than a year. We had emailed at times and he had told me as you see in the documentary to “be careful.” I knew that, like he said, he was desperate, I knew he carried a gun and I had heard the phone call that he had made with Jacoba where he is basically saying that I am doing this for ratings and now I am trying to out him and he needs help basically trying to silence me.

I knew we were going forward with our story and we were going to be using his name. I wanted to give him the opportunity to give us (his) side of the story, I don’t want to just tell one side of the story, I want to hear from you, give us the reason behind it, why did you do it? So he did agree to meet me without a camera. My boss at the time wanted me to take a security guard and my former co-anchor wanted to go with me because he feared for my safety. When he did walk in, he did have a gun on his hip.

The first thing he said to me was, “they don’t allow guns in here do they?” He told me he knew where I lived and then he begged me not to out him.

Q: We still don’t really know why he would do this. Do you have any more insight into why he would do this?

A: I know we’re going to know more because of the women that have reached out to me. I’ve seen the photos, I am going to be really shocked if we don’t get much higher.

I am going to tell you what he told me. He told me he did this because the mothers were desperate. He told me too, though, that he only did it three times. Then he told me he never did it more than seven to 10. Then he was telling multiple people, he told police, he never did it more than 25, 50. Now we are here at 100. When someone lies to you multiple times, you can’t believe a word they say.

He did tell me at our meeting that if I exposed him, his wife would think it was adultery, so he knew and he felt that in him that it was wrong. Do I think there was a possible sexual addiction? Possibly. Do I think he possibly had some sort of God complex? Absolutely. Do I think that he had a hard time when someone is begging you for a child and he knew that he could help them, do I think there was a part of him that wanted to do that and also to be the best at what he did? I think all of those things are probably a part of it.

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