Posted on June 7, 2012

Hamilton County Facing Federal Lawsuit over Sexual Abuse at the County Morgue

Suzanne Murray, WCPO (Cincinnati), May 31, 2012

Hamilton County is facing a federal lawsuit over the sexual acts of an employee who worked in its morgue. {snip}


Now, years later, the families of the victims want relief.

9 News was given exclusive video by a victim’s lawyer, who claims the county ignored numerous warning signs. {snip}


[James] Appling’s daughter, Charlene, was 24 and pregnant with her second child when she was killed. Charlene was one of the three confirmed corpses Kenneth Douglas abused while he worked in the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.

Douglas admitted to sexually assaulting Charlene Appling, Karen Range, and Angel Hicks during his time at the morgue, which spanned from 1982-1991. Dr. Frank Cleveland was the coroner during this time.

“I would just get on top of them and pull my pants down,” said Douglas.

These crimes did not come to light until years later. It was not until 2008 that DNA from the victims was linked to Douglas. He was indicted, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.


Douglas’ wife claims she called the morgue supervisor about her husband smelling like alcohol and . . . .

“I told him we’re down to one car so I’m driving him to work and picking him up. He gets undressed and he wreaks of ____” said Kenneth Douglas’ wife.

The victim’s attorney put it in terms that we can publish: “Her husband was also coming home from work as she put it, smelling like sex,” said attorney Al Gerhardstein, one of the family’s attorneys.

Douglas’ wife claims the morgue supervisor, told her to stop calling.

“He said, ‘Whatever happens on county time and on county property is county business,’ ” said Douglas’ wife.

Douglas says he committed these crimes because he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol on the job.

“If I hadn’t had anything to drink when I went to work, it wouldn’t happen. I would do crack and go in and drink and go in,” said Douglas.

And even he isn’t sure how many corpses he abused.

“Could have been a 100,” said Douglas.


“The county had plenty of notice that Douglas was coming to work and was present at work while he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Had he been stopped these women would not have been abused,” said Gerhardstein.