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Unidentified corpses stored at City Colleges, lawsuit claims

Unidentified “decomposing” human corpses were stored at several City Colleges of Chicago campuses, a new lawsuit alleges.

And when the macabre issue was brought to light by Micah Young, then-dean of Health and Sciences Career Programs at Malcolm X College, he was unjustly fired, he alleges in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

“He tried to do the right thing for the families and for the individuals who gave their bodies to science,” said Dennis Stefanowicz, Young’s lawyer. “When he tried to do the right thing, he ran into a brick wall, and when he brought the issue to light, instead of taking the time to figure out how the problem occurred and figure out how to right the wrong, they just terminated the person who brought the issue to light. It was the easy way out.”

A spokeswoman for City Colleges declined to answer questions about the bodies and said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The bizarre and grisly discovery of four human bodies stored in boxes at Malcolm X was made by Young in June 2014. The lawsuit alleges there are eight other bodies “rotting” at other city colleges.

Faculty members told Young, a medical doctor, about the ones at Malcolm X and Young began to investigate.

Eventually, a former associate dean was contacted in order to obtain the combination to open the “walk-in safe” where the bodies were kept, according to the lawsuit.

Malcolm X officials were told about the discovery and the various health and safety regulations that were violated by the improper storage of human remains. “Countless employees, students and other visitors of Malcolm X College have been and are continued to be exposed, through the air vents, to bacteria and germs from decaying human bodies,” the lawsuit alleges.

Young’s investigation revealed that the unidentified bodies had been in the college since 2003. It also revealed that during renovations at the college, the four bodies at Malcolm X were moved to a storage facility that cost taxpayers $10,000.

“The bodies were returned from the off-site storage to the unrefrigerated ‘walk-in safe’ for further decay and rotting,” the suit says.

Young couldn’t determine where the bodies came from.

The Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois, a nonprofit that manages the body donor program for research and is contracted by the colleges for such purposes, said it couldn’t find any missing or unidentified bodies provided to City Colleges, according to the suit.

Paul Dudek, executive vice president of the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois, told the Chicago Sun-Times: “According to our records, all the specimens we provided to them are accounted for.”

But he said the group is again “double-checking” just to be sure.

Corpses distributed by the AGA are returned to the group for cremation.

Dudek said the bodies at the colleges are likely embalmed and “will last many years as cadavers.”

The lawsuit claims the college’s inspector general is investigating the allegations regarding the “improper maintenance and storage of unidentifiable cadavers.”

But the City Colleges Inspector General John A. Gasiorowski told the Sun-Times he could not confirm or deny whether he was investigating.