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North Cal Brain Surgeon and Nurse Arrested on Multiple Charges of Child Sexual Abuse

May 19, 2017

In what Watsonville, CA police described as “a serious sexual assault case which crossed state lines,” a 57-year-old Santa Cruz brain surgeon was apprehended by law enforcement on multiple charges of child sexual abuse.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that Dr. James Kohut was arrested at his home in Santa Cruz in an investigation of incidents involving children under the age of 10 and under age 14. Kohut was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail and is being held without bail. As part of the same case, Watsonville police Captain Jorge Zamora announced that nurse Rashel Brandon was arrested and charged with 11 felonies involving child sexual abuse and multiple charges related to the production of child pornography. Zamora also told the media that a third, unidentified suspect was in custody outside of California. The alleged crimes all occurred in Santa Cruz County, authorities say.

“I can confirm we have three people in custody, and that this is a very serious sexual abuse case,” Zamora told the newspaper. “I can also confirm the case crosses state lines.” Police declined to provide additional details.

Dr. Kohut and Brandon both worked at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.

“Dignity Health Dominican Hospital is aware of the allegations and has taken the appropriate steps,” the hospital said in a statement to CBS affiliate KION. “In accordance with hospital policy, we cannot comment on personnel matters.”  

Police said a member of the community alerted the authorities about the alleged crimes. Police have not commented on whether the cases involving the 10-year-old and the 14-year-old are connected.

Kohut was arrested on suspicion of committing a lewd act upon a minor under age 10, a lewd act upon a child under 14, and a forcible lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, according to Steven Moore, a Santa Cruz county deputy district attorney.

Watsonville police have asked for the help of the FBI, the District Attorney’s office, and the regional Internet Crimes Against Children in the investigation.

Kohut has been practicing medicine in California in 1998. Recently, he joined Sparks Clinic Neurology Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Medical board records show that Kohut was disciplined for viewing pornography on University Medical Center computers while working at as a neurosurgeon between 2002 and 2003.

More details in this case will undoubtedly surface, but it appears that a physician and a nurse may have used their positions to harm young children. These types of wrongs cannot go without consequences, both from the criminal justice system and in civil court to compensate the victims for their injuries. The Cifarelli Law Firm, LLP in Orange County, California is staffed with skilled child abuse attorneys who are committed to making things right for you and your family by holding negligent parties and entities liable from a legal standpoint. Contact us today to speak to an experienced attorney about your case.

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