May 15, 1996 in Nation/World

Amend Answers Charges Coroner Denies Making Comments Cited In Report

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane County Coroner Dexter Amend denies making some of the sexual comments state investigators cited when charging him with unprofessional conduct.

Amend didn’t discuss sodomy with a woman whose daughter was murdered, he said in a written response to the charges.

In a four-page document made public Tuesday, Amend also denied asking questions about an 11-year-old Valley boy’s sexuality after the boy died in a shed fire.

Those statements were included in the coroner’s formal answer to moral turpitude charges filed March 14 by the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission.

The commission accuses Amend of causing bereaved families “great anguish” and making decisions in death investigations that contradicted autopsy findings.

If found guilty of the charges in an October hearing, the 76-year-old retired urologist could lose his medical license but not his elected position.

“In regard to moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption relating to the practice of my profession, I strongly deny the charges,” Amend wrote.

“I have a strong commitment to monitor the deaths in Spokane County and feel my medical knowledge, though not required to be coroner, enhances my capacity as coroner.”

Amend said an investigator took the word of people with “a history of drug use and who were socially disadvantaged.”

In one case, the investigator failed to get witnesses of an meeting autopsy besides the “biased witness” of the forensic pathologist who performed the procedure, Amend wrote.

Amend, reached at home Tuesday night, declined to comment.

But Mabel Grantham, who talked with Amend after her 16-year-old daughter, Kendra, was shot in the head in August, disputed the coroner’s version of their meeting.

“It’s absolutely not true, not one bit of it,” said Grantham.

“I think he’s lying through his teeth.”

Grantham told a state investigator Amend asked whether her daughter had ever been sodomized by gangsters.

Without referring to Kendra by name, Amend said she and a friend went to a Hillyard house, where they were killed in an alleged gang-related shooting, because of “free sexual relations that existed there.”

Amend denied making any mention of sodomy.

Grantham, who wept quietly when she learned of Amend’s response Tuesday, said: “He most certainly did ask me if gang members sodomized my daughter.”

Amend also disputed the investigator’s version of the coroner’s conversations with the family of the 11-year-old fire victim. The boy died in January when fire destroyed the metal shed where he was spending the night with a friend.

According to the state investigation, Amend asked Jeffrey Himes’ mother if her son was gay and had sex with other boys. He then asked Jeffrey’s older brother whether the dead boy masturbated or had sex with another boy.

That’s not what happened, wrote Amend. He acknowledged asking about masturbation, however, in an attempt to find out why the boys were in the shed.

“… The question was raised why, could it be for smoking, drinking or perhaps, masturbation,” Amend wrote. “Having raised six children and being a urologist, I know these are reasons kids go out alone.”

A neighbor saw three other children run from the shed, which contained pornographic literature and was called a “runaway hut,” Amend wrote.

In another case, investigators said Amend publicly announced a murder victim had been repeatedly sodomized, even though a pathologist couldn’t conclude she was sexually assaulted.

Amend’s response stated Dr. George Lindholm, who performed the autopsy, said in a telephone conversation the 9-year-old girl “had been someone’s toy for a long time” because of the condition of her rectal area.

“Subsequently, Dr. Lindholm denied giving this preliminary report verbally,” Amend wrote.

Lindholm said Tuesday he never made the “toy” remark. He also denied telling Amend the girl had been sexually assaulted.

“I did tell Dr. Amend the anal canal was dilated and I’d done the appropriate tests and we’d see how they come out,” Lindholm said.

, DataTimes

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