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Oklahoma News

June 9, 2010

Head of Okla. ME's office accused of harassment

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A pathologist hired as the temporary head of the embattled Oklahoma medical examiner's office was accused a decade ago of sexual harassment and misconduct in Arizona.

A lawsuit filed against Dr. Andrew Sibley in 2000 when he was a pathologist in Pima County, Ariz., accused him of routinely harassing female employees, allowing unauthorized women to participate in autopsies and riding his motorcycle past dead bodies and into an autopsy room.

The board that oversees the Oklahoma medical examiner's office voted unanimously Saturday to appoint Sibley as its chief medical examiner to oversee the agency.

Sibley, who has worked for 10 years as a pathologist at the agency's Tulsa office, informed the board about the allegations in Arizona, and denied most of them, said Cherokee Ballard, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office.

"He said for the most part, they weren't true," Ballard said. "He did acknowledge driving the motorcycle into the morgue."

According to published reports in two daily newspapers in Tucson, Ariz., a Pima County investigation confirmed several allegations in the lawsuit, which was filed by a female worker in the office. Records from that investigation were later destroyed, said Gwen Hatcher, the county's human resources director.

"Basically, it was animal house at the morgue, and Dr. Sibley was, among other people, proven to be culpable," said Joseph Watkins, an attorney for the woman who sued Sibley and Pima County. "The county did an independent investigation that substantiated the allegations."

Sibley was eventually dropped as a defendant in the lawsuit, and the suit was settled with the county for an undisclosed amount, Watkins said.

Sibley declined a request for an interview Tuesday. In a written statement, he said the allegations occurred after he left the office in Arizona.

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