ONONDAGA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE Criminal Court House 505 South State Street Fourth Floor Syracuse

, New York 13202 Phone (315) 435-2470 Fax 315-435-3912
For Release: April 15, 2014 District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick announced today that his office has completed its investigation into the allegations against Dr. Michael Clarke, an orthopedic surgeon working out of St. Joseph‟s Hospital. After extensive interviews with numerous witnesses, and subsequently presenting their testimony to an Onondaga County Grand Jury and after reviewing hundreds of pages of documentation and records, there will be no criminal charges filed against Dr. Clarke Fitzpatrick presented the following findings of his office‟s investigation: In mid-January of 2014, his office received a complaint from Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists who worked in the operating room with Dr. Clarke. The written complaint made several allegations with regard to Dr. Clarke‟s conduct in and out of the operating room, including inappropriate contact with anesthetized patients and vulgar language directed at those patients. District Attorney Fitzpatrick immediately directed his chief of Special Victims Bureau to commence a grand jury investigation. Witnesses were interviewed including members of Dr. Clarke‟s surgical team and staff from St. Joseph‟s Hospital. Hospital records were subpoenaed in an attempt to identify patients who may have been victims of his alleged conduct. The evidence indicated that the nature of the conduct included Dr. Clarke slapping patients on the buttocks as he made vulgar, insulting or otherwise inappropriate comments after these patients had been anesthetized in preparation for surgery. There was also evidence of sexually inappropriate conduct and comments made towards staff. Because the alleged conduct occurred over an extensive period of time and dozens of surgeries, it was impossible for the witnesses to identify exactly what patients were in the operating room with Dr. Clarke when they observed this conduct. -more-

None of the witnesses described conduct that could be proven to be sexual in nature. The conduct observed in the operating room was limited to slapping patients, both male and female, on the buttocks. Dr. Clarke defended his actions by suggesting he was checking to ensure the patients were fully under the effects of anesthesia, however, evidence provided by experts as well of the observations of those in the operating room undermined that explanation. “In order to charge a criminal offense it is necessary to have proof of the element of „sexual gratification‟ and identified complainants who have come forward to pursue prosecution. In this case there is neither and therefore there is insufficient evidence to support a viable criminal prosecution,” said Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick noted that his office worked closely with the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OMPC) and St. Joseph‟s hospital to ensure they have all the facts gathered from the District Attorney‟s investigation. He has been advised that both OMPC and St. Joseph‟s Hospital are taking appropriate action with regard to Dr. Clarke‟s conduct. “I commend those staff members from St. Joseph‟s that came forward and cooperated in this investigation. There is no doubt that they made a difference and improved patient services at St. Joseph‟s. Their concerns and courage to speak up changed the way business was done there,” said Fitzpatrick.


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