New allegations against Jacksonville Medical Examiner

Report claims Dr. Rao sold eyes, tissues from cadavers

Author: Tim Pulliam, General assignment reporter, tpulliam@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 11 2013 10:39:05 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 11 2013 11:02:39 PM EST
Dr. Valerie Rao
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The City of Jacksonville has released more documents containing allegations against Jacksonville Medical Examiner Valerie Rao.

Rao, who has been the subject of recurring complaints, has been the Fourth Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner since 2011, and she has applied for reappointment to the position.

The City called for the state to investigate Rao based on complaints that were made about the Medical Examiner, but the state did not believe there was a reason to investigate and Rao has remained on the job.

The latest documents released by the city, shows more questionable behavior by Rao. The documents state that in Dec. 2011, city officials met with Dr. Rao and her staff about using the city facility, and city employees, in the removal of eyes and tissues for private banks without approval.

In a brief summary, the report said Dr. Rao, "has repeatedly violated or disregarded City of Jacksonville policy, procedure, and practices."

Back in June, Channel 4 obtained parts of the report that stated, Rao would touch cadavers with her bare hands and wash her feet in the autopsy sink.

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Within the new documents, staffers at the Medical Examiner's office accuse Rao of making several racial and critical remarks. The paperwork said that Rao would refer to one employee as "Big Mac" in reference to the employee's weight.

Another allegation is that Rao called someone in the office a "Backwoods Redneck."

The report also said approximately 12 medical examiner's employees have either been resigned or retired, because of Dr. Rao's unprofessionalism and lack of leadership.

Dr. Rao has not commented since the first accusations began to emerge against her in June. The city told Channel 4 Wednesday night, that Rao isn't the best person for the job.

"The facts in the report speak for themselves. From our perspective our goal is to take whatever steps that we can to make sure that we have the best possible medical examiner for the tax payers," said Jacksonville public information officer David DeCamp.

The committee that will review Dr. Rao's background, as well as the other five candidates, is made up of the Sheriff's, Funeral Director's, city, state and county leaders.

Wednesday was the group's first meeting. They will meet again in January to narrow down the candidates.