Officials: Doctor in abuse case wanted to impregnate women

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Watsonville Police Department shows Dr. James Kohut. Authorities said the former brain surgeon charged with raping kids in Northern California sought to impregnate women to have sex with their children. (Watsonville Police Department via AP, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A brain surgeon charged with sexually abusing children sought to impregnate women to create more victims and had been suspected of molesting youngsters for two decades, Northern California prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors made the allegations in court as they unsuccessfully sought to deny Dr. James Kohut bail while he awaits trial on 11 charges related to child sex abuse.

Several women who had relationships with Kohut said he wanted to have children with them to create ”‘taboo’ families where the parents raise their children sexually,” Assistant District Attorney Steven Moore said 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 wrote that Kohut pressured the women to find children for him to abuse.

There’s no suggestion in the court papers filed last week that Kohut sexually abused his children or that he actually did impregnate women to create more possible victims.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel first reported on the filings.

A judge ruled Monday that Kohut was entitled to bail and ordered a report about his finances to help determine an amount. Kohut was ordered back to court June 28 to set a bail figure.

Kohut has said he will voluntary surrender his California medical license if granted bail. His California medical license remains active, though the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported May 24 that state officials asked a court to temporarily suspend Kohut’s license until the California medical board can take up his case.

Board spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson did not respond to phone and email inquiries.

Moore also said that the FBI, Australian federal police, the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s department and Seaside police department had previously investigated Kohut since 1997, but he has never been charged.

Moore declined to discuss the allegations in more detail on Monday. FBI spokeswoman Katherine Zackel said the FBI is assisting Watsonville police investigation and declined to discuss the agency’s previous involvement with Kohut.

Officials with the sheriff’s department and Seaside police did not immediately respond to phone messages left Monday seeking more details on their investigations of Kohut.

The case began last month when Rashel Brandon’s husband gave a video to Watsonville police allegedly showing his wife and another nurse, Emily Johnson, sexually abusing children.

Kohut and Brandon worked together at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. Police arrested Brandon first and seized a cellphone with video allegedly showing abuse as well as three allegedly incriminating photos, according to court paperwork filed Thursday by Kohut’s attorney Jay Rorty.

Rorty argued that Kohut does not pose a flight risk, does not represent a danger to the public and does not appear in video recordings or photos seized by police. In one recording, Rorty said, one of the alleged victims refers to a person named “James.”

A man’s voice can be heard off camera and police have said it was Kohut’s voice.

Court documents also stated Kohut said nothing incriminating during a brief phone conversation with Brandon made at the request of police, who were recording them.

Johnson was arrested in Arizona, where she remains jailed pending transfer to California to face charges.

Rorty’s court filings did not address the claim that Kohut wanted to impregnate women so he would have more victims. Rorty in a telephone interview declined to comment on the allegation.

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

Kohut previously pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges. The district attorney’s office added another felony charge last week after another alleged victim came forward.

Kohut was arrested shortly after he took a new job with a Fort Smith, Arkansas, hospital, which has since fired him. His medical license in Arkansas has been suspended.

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