The Man with 1000 Kids (2024) s01e03 Episode Script

Episode 3

[mysterious music plays]
[John] The most disturbing thing
we heard about
is a rumor that Leon and Jonathan
would mix sperm
before they donated it to women
so that they could have
this sort of sick game
about trying to guess who the father was.
Jonathan might not actually be
the biological father.
Within 24 hours of us hearing about this,
we ordered a DNA test
because we wanted to be sure.
The two weeks waiting for the results,
those were long.
- That was horrible. It just took forever.
- It took forever.
Two weeks is a very long time if you
really, really want to know the results.
Results were that they were a 100% match.
The same DNA as Jonathan.
That was a big relief.
[Natalie] There is always a possibility
I have gotten
semen of somebody else inside me.
I have no idea.
[Laura] He would never stop donating.
So we decided that someone
actually had to intervene
in the court of law and actually stop him.
[mysterious music continues]
[mysterious music plays]
[phone ringing]
[man] I remember that day, one of the moms
calling me and telling me this story.
And I remember hearing that story
and thinking, "Wow."
My mouth fell open.
This man, he looked like
the father of their dreams.
And they saw their dream
turning into a nightmare.
He first lied to moms
he met on the Internet.
Then he lied
to 11 clinics in the Netherlands.
Then he lied to clinics abroad.
It was all about lying
about the amount of kids.
I thought, "This is something
that's terribly wrong."
Then she gave me a huge database.
In the database was a map
containing all the information
about the amount of children that he had.
This is not a national problem.
It's a worldwide problem
because this guy has children everywhere.
[mysterious music continues]
They wanted him to stop donating
and ask the clinics
to destroy all the semen in stock.
The only way to stop him
was going to court.
Something like this never happened before,
so we knew we will be walking
into legal no-man's-land.
And I said to her, "I will think about it.
I will call you back."
We had to think about it.
"Can we take a case like this?"
[curious music plays]
It's always going to boil down to
can you stop someone from procreating?
When the mothers reached out to me,
I could tell them
the legal framework in the US,
which was clearly very limited.
What can we do? How can we do it?
And you really have to think
outside of the box and get creative.
[mysterious music plays]
[Mark] And then I told
a colleague of mine,
"I think there is a way
we can solve this."
There is this article in Dutch law
that states you should not cause harm
to other people.
This problem is bigger
than just these hundreds of children.
This problem will go on and on
because these children will have children,
and they will have children.
And we could provide evidence
that it could be potentially harmful
for these children
to be part of such a big family.
So this is a very dangerous situation.
We're talking about
a chance of inbreeding.
Let's just say
that if one donor had 500 offspring,
we could realistically say
that in 100 years,
they could have 15,000 descendants.
[Eve] That is a huge biodiversity concern.
If family members meet
and they don't know that they are related,
then that genetic connection
can be mistaken for love.
This is a scientifically
documented phenomenon
that's called genetic sexual attraction.
Even if you don't have a child,
learning that you have hooked up
with your half-sibling
or first cousin or second cousins,
or that you fell in love,
or you even had a crush on a half-sibling,
the psychological impact of that
is pretty significant.
[Mark] This was a potentially
dangerous situation for the kids,
and this man
could be committing an unlawful act.
So we knew we had a case,
but the issue was
it might take a year or two
until you have a verdict.
In the meantime,
this man was able to procreate.
This man could procreate pretty fast,
so in a year, he might have procreated,
like, 100 extra times.
You feel really powerless because you see
the problem is getting bigger and bigger,
and you cannot stop him.
Each week, each month
that he's continuing,
there will be more children.
We can only imagine the numbers
after two years.
We knew we needed to convince the judge
that action was necessary
in a couple of weeks
instead of in a couple of years.
We thought he might say,
"I stopped donating."
'Cause that's what he always tells.
So we needed hard-copy evidence
that he was still donating.
They needed definite proof
that he was still active
because you don't need to stop someone
that has already stopped.
And we knew. We just couldn't prove it.
[Mark] And then one of the moms
came up with an idea.
[Natalie] We are going to play him
at his own game.
[curious music plays]
[man] Okay. Set and go.
[woman] I am an actress
sitting in for a real mom.
In reality, I don't look like this,
but my words are real.
[man] Okay, and action.
I used Jonathan as a sperm donor,
but I'm hiding my identity
because I don't want him to find out
who I am.
We need proof
that Jonathan is still donating sperm.
And I know he is not going to admit this
to any one of us.
I needed to pretend that I was a new mom
searching for a sperm donor.
Jonathan has my number. So what do I do?
I get a free SIM card,
and I put it into an old phone.
I set about creating
a fake Instagram account.
First, I google some nice ladies.
I knew from the other moms
that Jonathan likes
straight, single, pretty women
in their thirties.
[camera clicks]
I call myself Anouk.
I write, "Hey, I am a new mom,
and I am looking for a sperm donor."
"I saw you in the media,
and I think you make nice babies."
"Are you still donating?"
[phone buzzes]
[woman] He replies straight away.
[phone buzzes]
I ask him about himself.
"Do you have any nice hobbies?"
Try to build a connection.
He sends me a heavy metal song
that he has composed.
[phone buzzes]
[heavy metal music plays]
It's the Dutch rebel ♪
Back with a new track ♪
And a new album ♪
[woman] It is really hurting my ears.
I say, "Ooh, it sounds lovely."
[curious music plays]
[woman] I am giggling because I can see
how hard he is trying to impress me.
It's going on a while, and then he says,
"If you ever want to go camping,
you are more than welcome,"
and he sends me pictures
of some chopped wood
along with a video of a cozy campfire.
I think he's getting a bit flirty.
So I flirt back.
I tell him
that I'm an amateur photographer
[phone buzzes]
with a special interest in spicy content.
[phone buzzing]
And then he asks me for another picture.
I'm like, "Oh shit,
this could blow my cover."
I'm fast googling.
And I find a picture
that looks like this woman,
but it needs to be spicy.
I find a woman in a bikini.
And then he gets very excited.
[phone buzzes]
[woman] Very excited.
[phone buzzing]
He's blinded by these pictures,
and he is not thinking anymore.
He is only thinking with his pinky.
I just need him to go one step further
to prove that he's still willing
to donate.
I'm thinking, "Come on, Jonathan.
Arrange a day to meet with me."
"Say you want me to have your sperm."
I keep on messaging, luring him in, until
he offers up a date.
Yes! We have him.
I take some screenshots of his messages,
and I send it immediately
to the other moms.
[Mark] I receive some screenshots
showing that he was willing
to donate to new moms again.
[suspenseful music plays]
[keyboard clicking]
Then we thought, "Okay,
now we do have the evidence
to convince the judge
that the speed procedure was necessary."
So the court had set a date
for the oral hearing.
My bailiff was standing
in front of his door
with a subpoena with a court date.
He texted to the mom.
"Haha. Nice letter.
Too pathetic for words."
"Good luck with it, kid."
So he obviously did not take it seriously.
Well, it wasn't a joke.
Then the message came
that the court case had to be delayed
because he was travelling to Kenya.
[suspenseful music intensifies]
[Suzanne] And then suddenly
there's this video.
"Hi, welcome to my video blog."
"When traveling in Africa, eat this."
Biltong is basically dried beef.
[Natalie] At this moment,
he doesn't have a steady job.
How does he have the means to go to Kenya?
Is there somebody paying for his ticket
to come to Kenya?
[Suzanne] So we went online,
and we started digging around.
And we stumbled on a Facebook group
which is about donors in Kenya.
And there was this video
from a sperm bank.
[woman] A Kenyan clinic
requires European donors
and offers an all-expense,
two-week trip to Mombasa.
You must do six collections
on alternating days at the clinic, and
[mysterious music plays]
[Natalie] And there's a doctor
looking for European sperm donors.
Two-week vacation.
Flights, stay in a hotel, food.
All paid for by the clinic.
[Suzanne] It raised some alarm bells.
Like, he couldn't be possibly donating
just before a court case
to stop him, right?
Or could he?
So we started digging around more.
The group was recently created.
Three people are made admin.
Anthony Greenfield, Joe Donor, Kyle Gordy.
[keyboard clacking]
What is really, really shocking
is that those are mass donors.
So Mary also wants a baby.
Mary's also very interested.
- You also want a
- [Mary] Yeah.
You also want spermination?
Also interested?
[Natalie] These mass donors,
they show off how many children they have.
This will probably be 42 or 43.
I'm like Superman.
[Natalie] They go online to lure women in.
Send Joe a message
on the day that your period starts
in the cycle in which
you wish to fall pregnant.
[Suzanne] And I remember us
looking at those videos.
We were like, "You gotta be kidding me."
So we're watching the group
to see what's happening.
And then a new person is added.
[dramatic music plays]
The other donors called him
the Lion of Mombasa.
[Natalie] The Lion of Mombasa.
Who is this person? Why is he anonymous?
"Could it be Jonathan?"
is the first thing that springs to mind.
[Kate] In his profile with Cryos,
his favorite animal was a lion.
Watching his videos,
he certainly is obsessionally attracted
to the position of a lion.
My favorite animal
of the animal kingdom,
the lion.
"You look like an animal a bit.
You look like a lion, maybe."
Sure. I heard that before.
[Kate] He's the alpha male
sitting on the top of the rock,
looking at his grand progeny.
And then there's this post
where they mention a gathering,
a gathering of all the mass donors.
What are their plans?
What the fuck are they up to?
[mysterious music plays]
[Eve] I'm trying to understand.
Like, what do you think
is going on in Kenya, and why?
So one of my sources is friends
with a bunch of those mass donors.
And so I started asking him questions
to kind of get a better understanding
of what was really going on.
When you got in that group,
did you see anything else?
Did you learn any more?
And because the mass donors talk,
they talk about the different hotspots.
Like, Brazil right now is a hotspot.
Certain parts of Asia.
In Kenya, there's a huge demand for sperm.
And so the quickest way
to fill up those sperm banks
so they're not importing that sperm
is to get these serial donors over there.
And when you read the messages
between my source and these donors,
it all becomes clear.
Anthony said that the clinic
had flown him over,
paid for his flight, his hotel,
and his entire stay
until he donated 500 straws.
And those vials would fill up the tank.
What Anthony said
was that he was actually there
being milked as a cow.
[mysterious music continues]
[Suzanne] And that the goal of the clinic
is to make 200 babies a year.
- With his sperm.
- With his sperm.
[Eve] All these serial sperm donors
have deemed Kenya the new promised land.
And then Anthony says he wants to
"bleach Africa."
It's horrifically racist.
It is so beyond sick.
That's something so vile
and so nasty and so degrading.
They go from country to country
spreading their seed.
And so I think
that they have global ambitions.
What I believe to be true
is that Jonathan found a way
to make as many children as possible
through partnering with this clinic.
It's probably fair to assume
that he's part of the
Sperm-donor racket.
the Kenyan sperm-donor racket
that is happening right now.
Everything looks like
it's set up to be big.
Two hundred babies a year from one donor.
If this is true and fact,
then what we have been looking at
for the last 12 years
I'll say, for example,
maybe 1,200 children.
This is nothing
compared to what we'll be looking at
in five years' time
when Kenya is through with them.
That's why the court case
the court case is so important.
- [Kate] This could set a precedent.
- A precedent.
Not only for Jonathan
but for any other donor
that considers they may
they may wanna do this in the future.
The judge stated, "Can you promise
that you will be there on the new date?"
So, yeah, then he had to promise that.
[suspenseful music plays]
[Joyce] On the day of the trial,
we had a normal morning with breakfast.
[radio static]
[woman] Serial sperm donor
Jonathan Jacob Meijer
will be appearing in court today
accused of being a public health risk.
In an unprecedented case,
the courts may stop
his reproductive rights.
[Joyce] We left the house.
We take the kids to school,
and we drove to the courtroom.
[John] There was lots of uncertainty.
You're not sure what you're walking into.
You're not sure what you're going to get,
so you're in suspense.
[woman 2] Almost 50 women have submitted
statements supporting the case.
[woman 3] and how they may
have to tell their children
they have thousands of siblings.
[Nicolette] I hope
the court case will stop him
because my child should
should have a normal life.
[suspenseful music continues]
It's one of those situations
where it's a horror movie,
and you're just waiting
for the credits to end.
[Natalie] We were the first ones
to arrive at the court.
We saw everybody coming in.
The news from all over the world
was coming over to our little country.
We were kind of caught off guard
how big this story would become.
The Dutch man is facing legal action
for allegedly fathering
at least 550 children.
[in Spanish] In the Netherlands,
the law allows a maximum of 25 children
in no more than 12 families.
Mainly to avoid them having relationships
without knowing it.
More than 500 children?!
Whoa! How did he do it?
[mysterious music plays]
[in English] I was thinking, "Oh my God,
this court case is gonna be massive."
[Suzanne] And I think that Jonathan
must have been nervous.
Rightfully so.
[John] He appeared very, very nervous.
He had sweat on his forehead.
And he was constantly
playing with his hair.
[mysterious music continues]
[Kate] She was putting
the children to bed.
The court case was just about to start.
There was a fantastic journalist
who was covering the court case
from the very beginning right to the end.
Everything that was happening,
she was right onto it.
- We didn't need to be in the room, did we?
- No.
I'm trying to visualize
what was actually happening.
[suspenseful music plays]
[cameras clicking]
I made a statement. I wrote a statement.
My main goal is to change regulation
and to open eyes.
We were proud to be
one of the 50 or so families
that submitted a statement.
[Mark] I love the fact
the judge would see all the moms.
That really helped to create a picture
that this man is making victims
and that this must be stopped.
[woman] The claimants state
that Jonathan's mass donating
causes a serious risk of incest
to his donor children.
This is in violation
of the human rights of the children.
[John] We were very curious
on how was he going to spin this
so that the judge might accept it.
He is quite a good manipulator.
[dramatic music plays]
[Suzanne] We were anticipating, you know,
is now the moment he will finally open up?
And he would at least share more
about the reasons why he's doing this.
[Natalie] For me, it was very important
to hear him talk about what he had done,
why he had done it,
and what his reasons were.
I really, really want to know
what he's he's thinking.
[woman] The judge addresses
Meijer directly.
She asks him, "What does he think
of many mothers' fears
that it is not good for their children
to have so many half-siblings?"
[John] When he got up to talk,
he'd come up with something you hear about
in movies but not in real life.
[woman] The defense argues
that if they are worried about incest,
his donor children
can use a social-media symbol
to identify themselves
as one of his children.
There is an audible gasp in the room.
[Nicolette] Jonathan said
that the children
should have a symbol
on their social-media account
so they know
they're from donor-daddy Jonathan.
[Kate] It was a horrible suggestion.
A lot of children may not want
to have to display a symbol.
A lot of those children may want
to maintain their privacy.
But it's also that he limited the children
to his genetics being their identity.
It's it's it's disgusting.
[Kate] I thought it couldn't get any more
shocking until I read the next tweet.
Meijer said, and I kid you not,
"This is an entirely new concept,
and it's up to us as adults to shape it."
[dramatic music continues]
I was puzzled by his response.
I was like, "What do you mean?"
"Our kids are a concept?
Like in a new experiment or something?"
The judge wanted to know
exactly what that means.
[Suzanne] Jonathan starts explaining
that he is a donor plus.
So all of those children are able
to reach out to him,
and he will be there for them.
The risk of them falling in love
with each other,
that's not really a problem,
because they all know
that they have a donor,
and that's Jonathan, right?
He goes to birthday parties.
He goes to baptisms,
and then he meets all the children.
And then the judge looked at him.
She was quiet for a little bit,
and then she said,
"How do you see that happening
with 600 children?"
"You cannot go to 600 graduations.
You cannot go to 600 birthdays."
"How do you see that happening?"
And he never really gave a real answer.
I have my thoughts.
There are children out there that
that he's never gonna meet.
But they are gonna meet him
through his YouTube channel.
Yeah, it could be.
[dramatic music continues]
Say hi to my, uh, video blog!
[Natalie] And he uses
this YouTube channel to be a teacher.
I'm not selling you anything.
I'm just spreading teachings,
and I have a passion
for for truth and for reality.
And I want to share this
with other people. That's my passion.
So Jonathan knows for sure
that those children
will be looking for him.
You can safely assume
that everything that he posts
is also a message to them.
If you still have a television,
throw it away.
I don't believe in science.
Science is just stories.
Connect with nature.
There's no such thing as "inequality."
But it's almost like parenting from afar.
"This is my opinion.
This is my philosophy."
It really has a sense of
"Look, children. This is who you are."
Worshiping your ancestors.
Your ancestors are gods.
They gave you life.
God gave life to us all,
but he gave your ancestors life,
and they created you.
[Natalie] And maybe this is the reason
why he's doing what he's doing.
To be worshiped, to be needed,
to be like a new Jesus.
He's pushed out 650 videos,
carefully curated to only validate
one narrative and reality,
which is his.
It reminds me of it reminds me of a cult.
I definitely think it's it's come to
a point where he's feeling now that he has
a worldwide genetic power.
If this is his goal,
then then, well, that that's some
That's disturbing.
- Fucked up-shit, I would say, but Yeah.
- Yeah.
[Jonathan] The children have the right
to know my identity.
The chance that they will meet up
and have children together,
it's just like zero.
You know, sometimes I'm jealous
that they have their family,
and I'm not having a family yet.
For me, they're not a number,
the children. I really love them.
He's just the biggest narcissist there is.
[mysterious music plays]
The reactions in the room,
they they were of unbelief.
You could just hear [trills]
throughout the courtroom.
[indistinct chatter]
[John] You heard all of the parents
gossiping amongst each other.
[Kate] And then I remember saying,
"At the end of the day,
the judge has a decision to make."
"She can either do what is right,
or she can do what is easy."
- Because you're asking for a lot
- Yeah.
when you're asking
for major laws to be changed.
[Eve] We really had no clue
which way they would go.
We had no court cases or law cases
to pull from in general.
- [Eve] Hi.
- Hi.
How are you? How are you feeling?
[Vanessa] It was kind of what I expected
from what he had to say.
And he was, uh, playing, um, the victim.
It's not over yet.
No, it's not over yet.
In two In two weeks,
we get some, uh, answers.
I feel sick about it.
I just can't tell
which way the judge is going to go.
Our only hope was that the judge
would feel confident enough
to be able to say, "This is wrong,"
and to align morality and legality.
She'd be breaking new ground.
Think of the judges
who ruled on civil rights,
gender equality, abortion rights.
She'd be setting a precedent
that would be making history.
You have got to have balls of steel
to do that.
So I was hopeful,
but I was not confident.
[machine whirs]
- [Suzanne] Today's the day.
- [Natalie] Today's the day.
[Suzanne] We are waiting for the court
to bring out the ruling.
Yeah. Hopefully the judge
sees the urgency, that this needs to stop.
We have our own beliefs.
We have our own values.
But will the judge see those?
[somber music plays]
[phone buzzing]
[keyboard clicking]
[Vanessa] I was so nervous.
I had a knot in my stomach.
I was like, "Oh my God. Oh my God."
[Nicolette] Of course I had faith
in the judge, but I was very worried.
[Kate] We were communicating
with all these families.
All of a sudden, it just went silent.
And then the whole neighborhood
must have heard me going,
"Oh my God!"
[Natalie] The judge forbids Jonathan
[Suzanne] To donate new semen.
If he does that
[Natalie] He gets a fine of €100,000.
[in Dutch] Yes!
This is better than we expected.
I was really screaming here.
We're on a campsite,
and the whole campsite heard me.
[Natalie chuckles]
[in English] We were camping that weekend.
We were like, "Yay! Yay!"
"You have to get some cake."
- It was good cake.
- [Joyce] Yes.
It was very good cake.
[chuckles] I'm on cloud nine.
Yeah, I'm I'm happy. I'm really happy.
Oh God!
Now I really need to dry my face.
- My God.
- I would I would argue that this is
- This is the best outcome.
- Of all the outcomes
That was the best.
I'm so fucking happy.
[Natalie] The children
need to have a voice.
And the judge
was the voice of these children.
[phone buzzing]
[Kate] I think what made it
so groundbreaking was the first time ever
where a judge has ruled in favor
to restrict and control
a male's bodily autonomy.
It had to come to that, um,
to stop him.
[Eve] I was asleep. I woke up.
It was everywhere.
[woman] A man who fathered
up to 600 children worldwide
has been banned from donating sperm.
I just remember thinking,
"Oh my God, they did it. Like, they won!"
Actually, I think my exact thing was like,
"You got the fucker," if I'm being honest.
[mysterious music plays]
[Eve] How he responded after the verdict
is very indicative
of who he is as a person.
[in Dutch] Jonathan, the verdict was
just over a month ago now.
How do you feel sitting here today?
I don't agree with it.
I feel I've been treated unfairly.
[in English] One would think that
he didn't really have a leg to stand on
and would say, "All right,
I have nothing more to say."
But he went on this little,
kind of, pity-party media tour.
[in English] It would be
more, uh, honorable
if I would be open about it,
if I wouldn't lie.
I agree on that.
That's not a a good thing.
Uh, but on the other hand, you know,
I spent maybe, in the 16 years,
maybe 50,000 hours of my life
in helping them.
So I understand if they will be,
like, a bit shocked
or said, "Okay. Well, you know,
we are surprised."
But to be angry or even hateful,
as some of the parents became,
that's, to me, a little bit out of
yeah, out of line, in my opinion.
[boy] Are you excited?
- We are.
- Very excited.
We're nervous.
[boy] Why?
'Cause we're going to the Netherlands.
[Kate] We're finally making
our voyage to the Netherlands,
to finally connect with all these families
and all these beautiful children,
but it is very bittersweet
because we know the truth
behind the situation now, so
[Laura] At least we're all going
through this together.
- We are.
- It's very important we share that.
[Nicolette] It's gonna be very
I'm very excited, yeah.
After three and a half years.
[sentimental music plays]
[Nicolette] Ah!
Come here.
[Kate] Wait.
It kind of feels like coming home,
to be honest.
- [Nicolette chuckles]
- [Kate whimpers]
It's hard to describe,
but we we just feel the bond.
I mean, we are, like, thousands of miles
away from each other.
We're like real family.
Oh, come here, girls.
[all chuckle]
Do you wanna meet
some brothers and sisters?
And then have a play with them? Yeah?
[Laura] How are you? Good?
It's good to see you.
- Hi.
- [Laura] Hi.
- Yeah.
- Yeah, got a lot to talk about.
Yeah, a lot.
It's a friendship unspoken.
It's almost like
Sister Wives. [laughs]
I make that joke all the time.
It's kind of like Sister Wives
'cause, you know, we've all got
we've all got children to the same man,
and we all know him intimately
in a very weird, unusual,
skew-whiff kind of a way.
[Laura] Through our children.
[Kate] It's like a language
that only we speak.
Oh my gosh! I can't believe it.
Oh my gosh. Where are your
Oh my God, your babies. Oh my God.
[John] The children see each other,
and they have this instant connection.
That is so weird and almost magical to see
that all of them have
this, sort of, recognition in each other.
[indistinct chatter]
[Laura] It's been, uh, a a real
- Whirlwind.
- Yeah, that's the right word.
It's been a whirlwind of, um, feelings
and a sense of loss
and then obviously a sense of gain.
[Laura] It's made it a lot more real,
if that makes sense,
because when you live
in a different country so far away
and you don't have anyone to connect with
in the same situation,
it's, um it's quite isolating, you know?
- But now you have us.
- [Laura] Yeah.
[Natalie] You have all of us,
and we're here.
We're not on the other end of the world,
but we are here.
We're there for you guys.
[Nicolette] We all feel
stretched in our feelings.
The bad thing Jonathan created
also created one big family.
That's the mixed feeling every mom has,
and that's the hard part to understand
for the rest of the world.
To see a mom who's very happy
and also very angry.
But the kids have to know
they are very welcome and loved.
[Natalie] I love my child dearly,
and I'm very grateful that I'm the mother
of this wonderful little boy.
Am I proud that I have my kids?
Hell yeah.
Hell yeah.
[girl] Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh!
[mysterious music plays]
[mysterious music continues]
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