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Officials: Doctor in abuse case wanted to impregnate women

| Monday, June 19, 2017, 7:06 p.m.
Dr. James Kohut
Dr. James Kohut

SAN FRANCISCO — 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 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 the doctor 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 Thursday that Kohut sexually abused his children.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel first reported on the filings.

A judge on Monday said 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.

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 by phone on Monday.

Sheriff's and Seaside police didn't return calls. FBI spokeswoman Katherine Zackel said the FBI is assisting the Watsonville police investigation and declined to discuss the agency's previous involvement with Kohut.

The case began last month when the husband of Rashel Brandon gave a video recording 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 papers filed Thursday by Kohut's attorney Jay Rorty.

Rorty declined to discuss the case by phone Monday.

Rorty says in court papers arguing for bail that Kohut doesn't appear in video recordings or photos seized by police. In one recording, Rorty says one of the alleged victims refers to “James” and a man's voice can be heard off camera who police say is Korhut.

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

Rorty also said Kohut is not a flight risk and has no criminal record.

Rorty says most defendants have a right to bail, which is prohibited in capital cases and when a judge deems an inmate to be a danger to the public or a flight risk.

Rorty writes in court that it appears Korhut was arrested after Brandon told police he was involved.

Johnson was arrested in Pima County, Arizona, where she remains in jail pending a transfer to Santa Cruz County.

Rorty in his 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 documents filed last Friday that Kohut “has a sexual compulsion, and has solicited victims for decades,” Moore said.

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. Officials with the California medical board are seeking to suspend Kohut's license.

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