OSBI Investigates Medical Examiner's Office

Thursday, February 5th 2009, 10:46 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's Office is under investigation after two Oklahoma legislators cited issues with the agency' management and alleged sexual misconduct.

House Speaker Chris Benge and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee released a joint statement expressing "real concern about the office over serious management issues" and allegations of sexual harassment inside the State Medical Examiner's Office.

"OBI is in the process of assigning that case to several agents so we can get it done quickly," Brown said.

Benge and Coffee asked the state attorney general to open an investigation. The state Bureau of Investigation did open an investigation, but has not released details of allegations.

"These are criminal allegations," said Jessica Brown of OSBI. "What we have to determine is what happened in these allegations and then the A.G. and the prosecutor will determine if they meet the criminal standard."

A recent state audit of the Medical Examiner's office found what it called "several areas of concern, including insufficient training of employees, inadequate supervision ....of employees outside of the Oklahoma City office and questionable hiring practices that allowed a convicted felon to be employed in a position of trust."

A spokeswoman said some of those concerns have already been addressed.

"We are looking at ways we can make this office a better place and run more efficiently," said spokeswoman Cherokee Ballard.

Dr. Eric Duval is the acting chief of the Medical Examiner's office and they're interviewing candidates for that position.

The office has confirmed that its chief investigator is on paid leave.

Neither the Senators nor investigators have revealed which employee is accused of sexual harassment.