Syracuse surgeon will not be charged after allegations he slapped anesthetized patients

A local surgeon who was accused of slapping unconscious patients and using vulgar language will not face criminal charges.

The Onondaga County District Attorneyâ??s Office announced Tuesday that Dr. Michael Clarke, an orthopedic surgeon who worked at St. Josephâ??s Hospital, will not be charged after an investigation into allegations that he had inappropriate contact with anesthetized patients in the operating room, and directed insulting language at them. In January 2014, Clarke was accused of slapping male and female patients on the buttocks while they were undergoing preparations for surgery. Clarke had defended his actions, saying the contact was intended to ensure that patients were â??fully under the effects of anesthesiaâ??, but the DAâ??s Office says â??â?¦evidence provided by experts as well of the observations of those in the operating room undermined that explanation.â??

The DAâ??s Office also says none of the witnesses interviewed during the investigation were able to say that the inappropriate contact was sexual in nature.

â??In order to charge a criminal offense it is necessary to have proof of the element of â??sexual gratificationâ?? 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,â?? said District Attorney William Fitzpatrick in a statement to the media.

St. Josephâ??s Hospital says it has made changes to its procedures in response to the allegations against Clarke. The hospital faces sanctions, including possible termination from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

CNY Central has reached out to St. Joseph's Hosiptal for a response.