I-TEAM UPDATE: Judge orders monkey tissue to be tested within 90 days

Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 7:26 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A big update tonight from our I-TEAM about allegations of fraud, forgery, and a cover-up at Augusta University.

We broke this story back in 2017 when we uncovered claims that Augusta University lied to the federal government about how a research monkey died.

It’s a complicated whistle-blower case, slowly unfolding in court. But the judge just made three decisions and one of them could blow this case wide open.

So, let’s start with an order that allows samples of brain tissue to be tested.

Why is that so important?

The university sent those samples to a lab, claiming they came from a research monkey, named Ovetchkin, who died in 2013 after a procedure.

But back in 2017, the I-TEAM uncovered documents where a researcher said they couldn’t belong to Ovetchkin.

That’s because he said, under oath, that’s not even monkey tissue.

Last month, his lawyer asked Judge Jesse Stone to end this once and for all by allowing them to test it.

She argued if tests prove it’s not a monkey, then essentially, that proves fraud.

If tests do prove, it’s a monkey or Ovetchkin, then it helps the other side.

So again, this allows that testing to happen and Judge Stone’s order says it needs to happen in the next 90 days.

The other two orders are more procedural.

In one, Judge Stone sided with Augusta University lawyers, who argued against this case going before a jury.

The other order sends both sides to mediation.

They don’t have to settle, but they at least have to try.