Centra: ‘No evidence’ of misconduct

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

E.W. Tibbs

Centra Health reported that there was “no evidence” that former CEO Emory W. (E.W.) Tibbs engaged in inappropriate behavior toward any current or former employees of Centra following an internal investigation by a third party.

The attorney of the plaintiff who filed a civil suit against Centra Health in March raised questions about the investigation, including a comment that requests by the attorney for Stephanie Hale, the plaintiff, to meet the investigator were denied three separate times by Centra.

A representative of Centra Health said in a release Thursday that an independent third party hired by Centra completed its internal investigation following allegations in a civil suit that Tibbs sexually assaulted and solicited a former Centra Health employee.

The representative said Monday no additional information was available when asked the name of the third party organization that conducted the investigation.

According to the release by Centra April 4, the internal investigation concluded that “prior to the March 2019 release of the video, there was no evidence anyone at Centra was aware of any interactions between Mr. Tibbs and Stephanie Hale.

“There was no evidence suggesting Mr. Tibbs engaged in inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature toward any current or former Centra employee while he was employed by Centra as CEO.

“There was no evidence Mr. Tibbs inappropriately accessed employee contact information in violation of company policy or for unauthorized use.

“Centra will defend itself against what we believe, based on this review, are meritless claims,” the release concluded. 

A civil suit was filed to the Lynchburg Circuit Court March 11 against Tibbs, Centra Health Inc. and multiple, unidentified people believed to be employed with Centra Health. The suit alleged that Tibbs sexually assaulted Hale, a former employee of Centra Health, in March 2017 when Tibbs was employed with Centra Health.

The suit also alleges that Tibbs, using the pseudonym Ethan Toms, solicited Hale for sex via email prior to the March 2017 incident. 

The suit includes compensatory damages of $5 million and punitive damages of $5 million.

Following the announcement of the civil suit, Sparrow Health System in Lansing, Michigan, placed Tibbs on paid administrative leave. Tibbs was announced as the CEO of Sparrow Health in November 2018, following his resignation from Centra in September 2018. When contacted Monday about Tibbs’ status with the health system, a representative confirmed that Tibbs is no longer employed with Sparrow Health.

Investigation questioned

Paul Valois, attorney for Hale, raised questions and concerns about the potential integrity of the investigation, citing that he made three separate requests to Centra to permit Hale and Valois to meet with the investigator, and three separate times Centra denied the direct offers. 

He said the investigator “never met with my client or me. I don’t see how they could conduct an investigation without even talking with the person making the accusation.” 

“The so-called independent investigation, in my opinion, is a sham, and it was clearly an opaque attempt to whitewash whatever is going on over there at Centra,” Valois said, “and I guess we are just going to have to go through the litigation process to get to the bottom of it.”

When a representative of Centra was contacted about whether Centra received the requests or denied them, the representative could not provide additional information. 

Valois said the civil suit is entering what is called a discovery phase. In the discovery phase of a civil suit, the facts of the litigation are collected or investigated, and both parties of the case have to present information related to the case. Valois said as each case is unique, there is no set timeframe for how long the discovery phase could take.