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N4T Investigators: Former Tucson doctor faces shocking allegations

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TUCSON (KVOA) - It's a story you have to read to believe.

A Tucson couple wanted nothing more than to be parents. Two beautiful children and three decades later, the family tells us that they've uncovered a shocking secret about the Tucson doctor they trusted to give them a family.

It was at Tucson Medical Center where Dr. James Blute III, was the Chief of Obstetrics over three decades ago. It's also there where he delivered dozens of Tucson children whose mothers were helped through artificial insemination, but one of those moms says when it came to her two kids, he did more than just deliver them.

In 1983, Debra Guilmette gave birth to a little boy at Tucson Medical Center. In 1985, another baby, a little girl. Debra and her husband, Phil Salgado couldn't be happier. You see, the couple desperately wanted children but were unable to conceive on their own.

Debra said her OB-GYN, Doctor Blute III, suggested artificial insemination and Debra and Phil agreed, with one request, they wanted the donor to be Hispanic, like Phil. Debra said Dr. Blute said he found them a donor and inseminated her on three occasions, producing two children, Kristen and Aaron.

Fast forward to last Christmas when Kristen Finlayson, now married with a child of her own bought an over-the-counter DNA kit. Kristen explained,  "I wanted to see where I came from."

Kristen didn't know she was a product of artificial insemination prior to the test, but she got more then she bargained for, like finding out Kristen said, "That I was zero percent Hispanic." Kristen said that the DNA test not only revealed that she wasn't Hispanic, but that her father wasn't Phil Salgado. The test results showed she was the daughter of a man named James Blute III, the doctor who delivered her.

But how could that be? As her dad had passed away, Kristen took her questions to her mom.

"Blute, Blute, Blute, and when my mom explained it to me, I looked at my birth certificate and there it was, James L. Blute III," said Kristen.

Her mom, Debra, was mortified at the news. Her son also took a DNA test that showed Blute is his biological dad.

Dev Sethi is the Tucson attorney that represents both Debra and Kristen who are now suing Dr. James Blute III and Tucson Medical Center.

"It's a shameful betrayal of a doctor-patient relationship," Sethi said.

Kristen is angry, not only had she had to deal with the truth about her biological father, she's told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that she has learned there are more children out there who say their moms were artificially inseminated with Blute’s own sperm.

"Seven half-siblings so far, and those are just the ones who have had DNA tests," Kristen said. She said all of them received results from DNA tests that show James Blute III is their father, too. 

We went searching for James Blute III with a lot of questions. We know his offices were once in a building near TMC. A search online shows he left Tucson in 2004. He is still licensed to practice medicine in Arizona, and New York and Pennsylvania.

So, what's he doing now?

According to Blute's LinkedIn account, he shows his last position held was as the Medical Director and Chair of the Clinical Quality of Care of UnitedHealthcare in Syracuse, New York.

In an email to the News 4 Tucson Investigators, a spokesperson wrote: "Dr. James Blute is no longer employed with UnitedHealthcare.  His role during his employment with us was purely administrative and did not involve patient care."

We found a phone number for Blute and let him a message, but he didn’t call back. We also reached out to his attorney here in Tucson several times, but also haven't heard back.

"He needs to lose his license," said Kristen, and her mother added, "He needs to be embarrassed.”  

"He should be." said Kristen and Debra responded, "Yeah, he certainly embarrassed us."

Dev Sehi agreed and alerted the Arizona Medical Board, sending them a copy of the civil lawsuit.

He received this response: "Thank you for the notification of a lawsuit being filed.  Upon review, no further action will be taken.  Please note the Board requires notification once a settlement has been paid on the physician’s behalf.  The existence of a lawsuit being filed does not have to be reported. We will file this notification for tracking purposes only.  "

We also reached out to TMC who is also named in the lawsuit. A hospital spokesperson said they don't comment on pending litigation. In an email they would only confirm:

"Dr. James Blute III was not an employee of TMC, rather a member of TMC's independent medical staff. Dr. Blute was last part of our medical staff in 2000."

Kristen said, "I think he should be held criminally responsible."

Debra added, " I do too."

Kristen said, "I think I feel my mom was completely and sexually violated."

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that what Blute is being accused of is not a crime in the state of Arizona which is why Sethi has filed a civil lawsuit in the case. 

We have also learned that a similar lawsuit has been filed in Pima County against Blute.

We will continue to follow this shocking story as it develops.

James Blute III, worked as a doctor in Tucson for many years. He’s had two marriages and one divorce. From his first marriage, there were two sons.

When they learned of the allegations against their father, their attorney reached out to News 4 Tucson, giving us this statement:

"I represent the estranged biological children of Dr. James Blute from a previous marriage. My clients have had no meaningful contact with Dr. Blute in approximately 30 years - since he and their mother were divorced.  They have just become aware of the appalling allegations being made against Dr. Blute. They want to express their support for all of the victims who have been impacted by Dr. Blute's alleged actions. They have asked that the media please respect their privacy at this time."

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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