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A Former VA Physician Pleads Guilty to Molesting Several Patients

Earlier this month, a former physician at the Beckley VA Medical Center in West Virginia pleaded guilty to federal charges, admitting that he molested three male patients and violated their civil rights. On Thursday, September 17th, Jonathan Yates, D.O., pleaded guilty to three charges of depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law, meaning he committed these crimes while on duty.

Jonathan Yates worked as a doctor of osteopathic medicine at the Beckley VA Medical Center. His patients, and ultimately victims, were veterans seeking chronic pain management, and his practice frequently involved hands-on treatments through stretching and massaging. These patients entrusted themselves to Yates, believing he would assist in providing them pain relief. However, instead, Yates molested them while they were either immobilized or incapacitated.

In April of this year, Yates was arrested, and a grand jury indicted him a month later on five counts of depriving veterans of their civil rights and two counts of abusive sexual contact. According to the indictment, Yates admitted to molesting and rubbing the genitals of two veterans, after he temporarily immobilized them – one by cracking his neck and the other through the use of acupuncture needle – and also admitted to digitally penetrating the rectum of a third veteran without any medical purpose. The indictment also said a total of six male patients were molested between September 2018 and February 2019.

While Yates’ plea agreement did not require him to plead guilty to the two counts of sexual abusive contact, which included allegations of him blocking a door in one case and engaging in unwanted sexual acts with two separate veterans, he is facing up to 30 years in federal prison for the charges he pleaded guilty to. His sentencing is scheduled for January 4, 2021, and I hope he gets nothing less than the maximum sentence.

In our nationwide FTCA practice, we fight for veterans who have been harmed as the result of negligence or reckless conduct at either VA or military medical facilities, and that includes victims of sexual assault. While sexual assault cases can be difficult to prove, as the laws present certain obstacles to overcome, we have been successful in negotiating settlements in some cases involving sexual assault. So, if you experience such heinous acts at the hands of a VA or a military hospital, gives us a call – we might be able to help.


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