Fertility Clinic Doctor Denies Charges on TV : Embryos: Asch says U.S. society is obsessed with genes, and he expresses doubts that accusers were all his patients at UCI.


In his first public statements since the UC Irvine fertility scandal broke, Dr. Ricardo H. Asch suggested on national television Wednesday that Americans are overly possessive of their genes.

“I think it’s [a] much more materialistic society than other societies, the craziness about genes. . . . I think it’s entirely obsessed, this society, with genes,” Asch told “PrimeTime Live” co-anchor Diane Sawyer, according to a transcript of the interview taped outside the country. The location was not revealed at Asch’s request.

UC officials have accused Asch and his former partners, Dr. Jose P. Balmaceda and Dr. Sergio C. Stone, of taking patients’ eggs and embryos without their consent and implanting them in other women; pocketing university funds, billing insurance companies fraudulently, and engaging in research misconduct at fertility clinics at UC Irvine, Garden Grove and San Diego. All three doctors deny any wrongdoing.


Asch said he was surprised by what he called the sudden interest in the fate of the embryos.

“They leave the embryos for eight years, then suddenly it’s ‘My little babies, my little children.’ ”

He said genes “are, at least in my opinion, not that important . . . I know they’re not important for IQ, for athletic ability.”

While Asch admitted that the management of the clinic had been “sloppy,” he said people “put up with it” because of its world-class reputation, he said. Asch’s attorney, Ronald G. Brower, also has repeatedly accused clinic staff members of sloppy record-keeping and blamed them for any unapproved transfers.

During the ABC network interview, Asch also took issue with estimates that the eggs or embryos of 35 or more women were stolen at his once-famed fertility clinics.

“I don’t think . . . that there’s any way it could be those numbers,” he said, according to a full transcript of the interview.


Revelations from some patients and attorneys have increased the tally of potential victims in the egg-swapping scandal to potentially 60 or more.

Asch said he has heard that a number of 30 to 35 patients have initiated legal action against him, but contended that he does not recognize the names of 20 of the people on that list, he said in the transcript.

“I don’t think they are my patients,” he said.

He said he saw a woman on television “saying all kinds of things about Dr. Asch. That he did this, and he did that. And . . . that I don’t want to give her back her records. I told my wife . . . . ‘You know, I don’t even know who is this person!’ ”

Asch accused “unscrupulous lawyers” of manipulating vulnerable former patients into pursuing lawsuits against the clinic. And he accused clinic employees of being motivated by “envy and jealousy.”

“They want to deteriorate my reputation; they want to hurt me, they want to humiliate me, and they have been successful in doing that.”

He said he believed he would be “remembered for all the good things I did in my life, and all the good things I will do.”


Asch, who left the country shortly after federal agents raided his home and office on Sept. 19, apparently has been practicing medicine in Mexico. His attorney said he is on a speaking tour of Mexico and European countries and plans to return, but the recent sale of his upscale home in Newport Beach has prompted some investigators to speculate he won’t come back.

The U.S. attorney’s office is looking into whether the doctors engaged in mail fraud, fertility-drug smuggling and tax evasion. No charges have been filed.