SEARHC CEO pleads no contest to Anchorage disorderly conduct charge

The newly hired CEO of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium entered a no contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge Monday, according to court records.

Charles L. Clement, 37, originally faced charges of domestic violence assault and operating under the influence that were filed Jan. 5.

The municipal prosecutor in Anchorage, Cynthia Franklin, said the original charges stemmed from a Jan. 4 incident where an Anchorage police officer contacted Clement, who was operating his vehicle with a household or family member with him. That family member, identified in court documents as K.C., told police she had head injuries that resulted from a “scuffle” with Clement, court documents state.

A sample of Clement’s breath showed his blood alcohol concentration to be 0.178 percent, court records state. Alaska’s legal limit for a driver’s BAC is 0.08 percent.

An Anchorage prosecutor conducted a second interview with the alleged victim, where the victim gave a “scattered” account of how she had been injured, court records state. The prosecutor’s office dropped the domestic violence charges on Jan. 19.

Court records show Clement planned to mount a “necessity” defense to the operating under the influence charges. Such a defense would have meant Clement agreed he did what he was accused of, but had a legally permissible reason to do so. Here, Clement’s rationale for operating under the influence would have been driving the injured alleged victim to the hospital.

Clement received a one-year suspended sentence following his conviction for disorderly conduct.

In a prepared statement, the chairwoman of SEARHC’s Board of Directors said the board was aware of Clement’s no contest plea.

“Mr. Clement’s professional accomplishments and his desire to be a part of SEARHC’s future, allows us to set the incident to the side while we continue the goal to accomplish great things for ourselves and our people,” Jolene Edenshaw said.

SEARHC’s leadership fully supports Clement, she said.

The statement from SEARHC points out the “incident ... happened prior to Mr. Clements employment at SEARHC.” The health care provider announced Clement’s hiring Dec. 8, 2011, but SEARHC spokesman Michael Jenkins said he did not begin his duties as CEO until Feb. 6, 2012.

SEARHC is Southeast Alaska’s largest employer, according to information from the Juneau Economic Development Council, with 750 to 999 employees.

• Contact Deputy Managing Editor Charles Ward at 523-2266 or at charles.ward@juneauempire.com.

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