Update on North Cal Brain Surgeon Charged with Sexually Abusing Children: Bail Set

July 10, 2017

The brain surgeon who’s been charged with sexually abusing children wanted to impregnate women to create more victims and had been suspected of molesting youngsters for 20 years, Northern California prosecutors have claimed. The prosecutors made the allegations as they unsuccessfully tried to deny Dr. James Kohut bail while he awaits trial on 11 charges related to child sex abuse.

Women who had relationships with Kohut stated that he wanted to have children with them to create “‘taboo’ families where the parents raise their children sexually,” Assistant Santa Cruz District Attorney Steven Moore stated in court documents.

Moore said women identified in the documents only by their initials said Kohut “has a specific desire to have sex with a mother and a daughter.” Moore also stated that Kohut pressured these women to find children for him to abuse, but there’s no indication from the filed court papers that Kohut sexually abused his children.

Doctor Allowed to Seek Bail

Santa Cruz County District Judge Samuel Stevens held that Kohut was entitled to bail and ordered a report about his finances to help determine a specific amount. The judge set a bail hearing for Kohut. However, Moore requested that Kohut be kept in jail without bail, arguing that “no bail is appropriate based on the heinous nature of the crimes, the amount of punishment he faces, his significant wealth, and the potential danger to other children.”

Kohut was deemed a suicide risk and flight risk and was being held in the medical wing. The doctor has been on a hunger strike since his arrest in late May.

Judge Stevens has subsequently set Kohut’s bail for $6.45M, despite the prosecution’s request that it be set at $40M because of his public risk to both women and children. Protestors gathered at the courthouse entrance chanting, “keep kids safe” and “jail not bail”.

Doctor Under Investigation Since 1997

Assistant District Attorney Moore said that the FBI, the Australian federal police, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department, and the Seaside Police Department have previously investigated Dr. Kohut since 1997, however he was never charged.

An FBI spokeswoman said the FBI was assisting the Watsonville Police Department’s investigation and declined to discuss the agency’s previous involvement with Kohut.

The Start of the Case

The case started in May when the husband of nurse Rashel Brandon gave a video to Watsonville police allegedly showing his wife and another nurse, Emily Johnson, sexually abusing children. Kohut worked with Brandon at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. Police arrested Brandon and seized a cellphone with video allegedly showing abuse and three allegedly incriminating photos, according to court papers filed by Kohut’s attorney Jay Rorty.

In his court documents arguing for bail, attorney Rorty said that Kohut didn’t appear in videos or photos seized by police. In one recording, one of the alleged victims refers to “James.” A man’s voice can be heard off camera who police claim is Kohut. Rorty’s court filings didn’t address the allegation that Kohut wanted to impregnate women to have more victims.

Johnson was arrested in Arizona and remained in jail pending a transfer to Santa Cruz County.

Moore said in court documents that Kohut “has a sexual compulsion, and has solicited victims for decades.”

Kohut had previously pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges. The Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office added an additional felony charge when another alleged victim came forward.

Kohut’s medical license has been suspended in Arkansas, and officials with the California Medical Board are looking to suspend Kohut’s state license.

Contact Us

Updates in this case will be posted, but it looks like this physician and nurses 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 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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