Report: ME's Office Employees Emotionally, Sexually Victimized

Monday, July 20th 2009, 4:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

UNDATED -- A multi-county grand jury called the administration at the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office either willfully blind or grossly incompetent.  The report released on Monday blasts a former chief investigator.  And, his attorney fires back.

Kevin Rowland is the former chief investigator for the state medical examiner's office.  His attorney says he ran a tight ship.  And, criticized the Tulsa ME's Office.  And, Rowland's attorney says that's why the grand jury is coming after his client.

 "It's slanderous.  It's a heavy weight championship fight and I promise you the gloves are coming off this time and we're not pulling any punches," said Scott Adams, Kevin Rowland's attorney.

It's a response to an interim report from a multi-county grand jury investigating the state medical examiner's office.  The report paints the picture of a ME's office where the chief examiner ducked administrative duties, passing it on to a chief investigator who abused his power.

It's believed that that investigator was Kevin Rowland and that he could be the target of two sealed criminal indictments.

"You're damn right they're strong allegations, and they're gonna be met head on. And, that's why we're so upset. Because they're absolutely untrue," said Scott Adams, Kevin Rowland's attorney.

The grand jury says in the report that, under his leadership, sexual harassment and sexual battery were carried out within the office.

"Have we all just become a bunch of little babies? So what, what office doesn't play around and joke around? Whether he did it or not, who cares?" said Scott Adams, Kevin Rowland's attorney.

The grand jury report goes on to say formal complaints about harassment were either lost or stolen.  The grand jury indicates not only was their record keeping sloppy, but the ME's office handling of evidence was at times downright careless.

The grand jury says in its report they heard testimony that personal property collected during medical exams that wasn't secured or treated as evidence.  The report says some items, like crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia, is kept by the ME's office and is prominently displayed on employees desks.

A spokesperson for the ME's office says these problems have been known and addressed.

"We don't believe any of that is going on now," said Cherokee Ballard with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office.

Kevin Rowland's attorney says the case is all retribution because his client criticized the wrong people.  And that his client dedicated 20 years to the agency and never got anything but accolades, until recently.

Read the Grand Jury's Full Report (PDF)

7/1/2009  Related Story: Medical Examiner's Office Fails Accreditation