On January 25, 2021, a former physician at the Beckley VA Medical Center in West Virginia was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges that he molested three male patients and violated their civil rights. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Frank Volk and included 25 years in prison with three years of supervised release.
Jonathan Yates (age 52) 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 2020, 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 needles – 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.
In September 2020, Yates pleaded guilty to three counts of depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law, meaning the crimes were committed while on duty. However, his plea agreement did not require him to plead guilty to 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.
Fortunately, though, this doctor has now been held accountable, and will spend the foreseeable future behind bars where he belongs.
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.