“This doctor is believed to have plotted for 20 years, to impregnate women; to give birth to children, so he could create a secret sexual ‘taboo family’ lifestyle.” (Santa Cruz Police spokesperson)
In one of the truly bucolic beach towns along the California coastline, a seriously ugly trial is about to begin. A physician formerly employed by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation has pleaded “not guilty” in Santa Cruz County Superior Court to 10 felonies. Each of the charges relates to the molestation and rape and assorted other lewd acts forced upon numerous children.
Doctor James Kohut, a neurosurgical specialist, made no eye contact with anyone in the courtroom on that Friday morning, May 26. He simply sat slumped in his front-row seat with his head down, before Superior Court Judge John Salazar. More than half of the charges – if found to be true – each come with a life sentence.
County prosecutors believe they have irrefutable proof that the doctor, age 57, had performed both oral sex and anal intercourse with 2 boys under the age of 10 in early May – and he did it in the presence of two nurses who were in on his perversions. He is also believed to have had sex with another pair of children – one of whom was a girl, over the last 2 years. And there is evidence of numerous other victims and near-victims, of his secret life as a predator.
One of the nurses involved – formerly a Dominican Hospital staff member – is accused child molester Rashel Brandon, was also in court. She has been charged with 8 felonies in the apparent conspiracy of sex crimes involving children.
A lawyer from the California Attorney General’s office was also present, representing the State’s move to ask Judge Salazar to suspend Kohut’s medical license. The California Medical Board reports they would revoke Kohut’s medical license, but only if he is found guilty. They say they suspect the doctor presents a clear public danger to children if he is released on bail.
One of the nurses involved is Emily Stephens. She is accused of conspiring with the doctor in the child molestation case. Stephens was arrested and jailed in Tucson, Arizona.
Investigators say that in early May an unnamed citizen of Watsonville gave police a video – reportedly filmed 2 months earlier – of the two female nurses, Rashel Brandon and Emily Stephens, engaging in overt sexual behavior with kids as young as 3 years old, in a motel room near Santa Cruz. Police say they then discovered evidence that Doctor James Kohut was also involved, and had sexually assaulted both male and female children numerous times since New Year’s Day 2016.
Rashel Brandon, age 42, was the first of the trio to be arrested, on May 10. She is being held on $500,000 bail.
Emily Stephens, age 29, was arrested next. She has not yet been extradited to California.
Santa Cruz police, after questioning the nurses, arrested the doctor.
Here’s another look at this medical embarrassment: