A married brain surgeon and two nurses he was having affairs with have been charged by California authorities in a child sex abuse ring involving seven victims under the age of 13.
Watsonville Police Chief David Honda said Thursday Dr James Kohut, and nurses Emily Stephens, 29, and Rashel Brandon, 42, have been arrested over alleged sex crimes against children.
Honda described the case as ‘disturbing’ and ‘disgusting’.
He added three children were sexually abused, and the victims included a three-year-old boy, a five-year-old girl, and a nine-year-old boy.
Kohut, 57, made his first appearance in court Wednesday after he was arrested Sunday at his home in Santa Cruz.
Nick Cvietkovich, the surgeon’s lawyer, spoke to KSBW as he left court.
‘Doctor Kohut has spent his life saving people’s lives. He is a renowned brain surgeon,’ he said.
‘This is not conduct that he would participate in. And I think at the end of the day, the evidence will show this is not true.’
The surgeon’s court appearance comes after Brandon was arrested May 9 and charged with 11 felonies involving child sexual abuse as well as multiple charges related to the production of child pornography.
Stephens, who was arrested at her home in Arizona on May 12, is charged with committing sexual penetration, oral copulation, and sodomy against three children, according to the network.
The father-of-two surgeon was having affairs with both nurses, and children were abused during some of the sexual encounters, a warrant issued by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department stated.
Watsonville Police began investigating the incident Brandon’s husband found a tape of his wife and Stephens ‘committing graphic sex acts together against the children’ and gave it to authorities, the warrant states.
Honda, according to KSBW, said the tape was recorded in a hotel room in March this year.
Brandon, who was the first of the trio to be arrested, confessed to detectives who the second woman in the tape of her was. At the same time, she also gave investigators information about Kohut’s role in the disturbing ring.
The warrant also provided more detail on the alleged affair between Kohut and the 29-year-old Stephens, which is said to have lasted eight years.
The document states the surgeon paid most of the nurses bills, before detailing some of the alleged activities the trio took part in.
The two women would also send him copies of the sex tapes, which allegedly involved children, after filming them.
‘Emily had obtained payments from Dr. Kohut. There is also information that Rochelle (sic) traveled to Tucson to meet with Emily on several occasions,’ it stated, KSBW reports.
‘It is highly likely that the same sexual abuse occurred in Tucson since both Dr Kohut and Rochelle (sic) traveled to Tucson.’
The alleged abuses took place between January 2016 and May 9, 2017.
Kohut had recently joined Sparks Clinic Neuroscience Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, after he was sacked from his job at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz for ‘making unwanted sexual advances toward female nurses’.
He was also disciplined in 2002 by the state medical board for watching pornography at work.
The 57-year-old has since been fired by Sparks Clinic.
Kohut is married and has two college-age children; while Brandon is also married and has three children. They both remain in custody at the Santa Cruz County Jail, while Stephens is being extradited from Arizona to California.
The trio could face life behind bars if convicted.