Despite yet another alleged victim coming forward, a Santa Cruz judge granted bail Monday morning to 57-year-old James Kohut, M.D., a brain surgeon charged with (now) 11 counts of child sexual abuse. According to the San Jose Mercury News, bail was granted but Kohut remains in jail while his bail is determined. Kohut is still licensed to practice in California, but had recently moved to Arkansas possibly to avoid these charges and currently 11 different victims are alleged in court documents.
Santa Cruz district attorneys argued that Kohut has an established 20-year pattern of sexually abusing minors, that he “represents a significant ongoing danger to the community”, and that allowing him bail represents a suicide risk. “Our position was that Mr. Kohut should not be released on any amount of bail," Santa Cruz Deputy District Attorney Steven Moore said, according to ABC 7.
Kohut’s attorney pleaded not guilty on all charges, on his behalf. He’s been the focus of several criminal investigations over the years, but has never been convicted. “For nearly 20 years, the defendant has had a fixed sexual desire to be part of multiple ‘taboo families’ where the parents raise their children sexually,” Deputy DA Moore wrote in his opposition to a the bail request. “In that, he has a specific desire to have sex with a mother and a daughter. He then wants to impregnate the daughter and raise the child sexually in the ‘taboo’ family lifestyle.”
Per KRON 4, Kohut and two nurses were arrested in May when Watsonville police received multiple videos and photographs allegedly depicting all three defendants engaging in lewd acts with minors.
A new alleged victim was added to the list at Monday’s hearing, a 13-year-old Louisiana girl who had been visiting Santa Cruz with her mother. That alleged incident took place between 2003 and 2005, but Kohut is charged with lewd acts with children dating all the way back to 1997.
“Very frequently, people of higher social status are able to escape prosecution,” Boston Children’s Hospital pediatrician Eli Newberger told the Mercury News, explaining how Kohut may have been able to evade previous investigations by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, the Australian Federal Police, and the FBI. “They can hire good lawyers. These things can go on for years. Sometimes, it’s ultimately the images that catch up with the offenders."
While the judge did grant bail, the dollar figure of the bail has not been set. The judge asked to see additional documentation on Kohut’s finances prosecutors argue he is quite wealthy and may factor additional charges relating to the new victim into the bail amount. Kohut’s bail will be set Monday morning, and if found guilty he faces up to 165 years in prison.
Related: Stanford Student Files Lawsuit Alleging University Allowed Sexual Predator To Remain On Campus