University College London silent on fate of convicted professor

Future of Gennadij Raivich, a neuroscientist with a sideline as a private sperm donor, uncertain after conviction for sexual assault

August 14, 2014

Source: Alamy

Wild oats: Gennadij Raivich said that he ‘loved children’ and wanted to give the gift of parenthood

University College London has refused to say what action it will take against a professor of neuroscience convicted of sexual assault, who remains in his post after a case centring on his sideline as a private sperm donor who has fathered 58 children.

Gennadij Raivich remains listed on the UCL website as professor of perinatal neuroscience, working in maternal and fetal medicine in its Institute for Women’s Health.

But he faces jail next month for molesting a woman who had approached him about using his services as a private sperm donor.

Raivich fathered 58 children by setting himself up as a “one-stop shop” to artificially inseminate women who were desperate for a family, Blackfriars Crown Court in London heard.

The 51-year-old New Zealand-born scientist, who is a qualified doctor in Germany but has never practised in the UK, had described his activities in a newspaper interview prior to his arrest as “a hobby or charitable act”, saying that he “loved children” and wanted to give the gift of parenthood.

However, prosecutors claimed that he was a “narcissist” who was “sexually motivated in some of [his] transactions” and wanted to embark upon a “breeding programme”.

He has continued to publish scientific papers with UCL colleagues since news of his arrest broke in April 2013. His latest paper, co-authored with UCL staff, was published in March 2014.

A UCL spokesman said that the institution “took steps to ensure UCL’s interests were protected” when it became aware of the matter. But it has refused to say whether he was suspended ahead of the court case or if his role in maternal medicine had been restricted. UCL also refused to comment on whether he was entered into the research excellence framework, whose submission deadline was last November.

UCL has previously insisted that the case “does not concern allegations surrounding the staff member’s employment”.

The institution also declined to say whether it had investigated Raivich’s suitability to work in the field of maternal medicine in light of his sideline in artificial insemination.

Raivich, who made home visits to women who had contacted him on unlicensed fertility websites, has criticised Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority rules, which state that donors should be licensed and should not father more than 10 children.

The HFEA’s concerns were based on a “moral horror” about possible incest, Raivich said in the interview before his arrest. There is “not much risk [that] offspring will accidentally meet and set up homes with half-siblings”, he added.

UCL’s spokesman explained that it has “robust policies to ensure the highest ethical standards for research and other work undertaken by our staff”, but it would be “inappropriate” to provide more details related to Raivich’s case.

Raivich, who was acquitted of assaulting two other women, is due to be sentenced on 30 September. Despite the charges, he is well-regarded by many of his patients, with 15 women reportedly speaking up in his defence before the trial.

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