Dr. James Kohut, 57, pleaded not guilty in California to 11 child sex abuse counts
A brain surgeon accused in a child sex abuse case allegedly wanted to create “sexual families” by having relations with a mother and daughter, and possibly impregnate the daughter so that their child might also be raised “sexually in the ‘taboo’ family lifestyle,” according to a court document obtained by PEOPLE.
Dr. James Kohut, 57, pleaded not guilty Monday in Santa Cruz, California, to 11 child sex abuse counts that carry a possible combined penalty of 165 years to life in prison, his attorney, Jay Rorty, tells PEOPLE.
Rorty successfully challenged the prosecutor’s right to deny Kohut bail, but for now Kohut remains in the Santa Cruz County Jail.
Prosecutors sought to keep Kohut behind bars by alleging in a 14-page court filing that, “for nearly 20 years,” the traveling neurosurgeon with a current permanent address in Arkansas has displayed “a sexual compulsion, and has solicited victims for decades.”
“Like the crimes charged here,” the document alleges, “defendant was soliciting mothers to engage in sexual acts with children.”
Among the examples cited, the prosecution referred to a Vermont woman who said she had a relationship with Kohut from 1997 to 2000. “During that relationship, he told her that he wanted to get her pregnant so she could have a child and they could be sexual with that child,” the document alleges.
The allegations continue: “He told her that he was most interested in children between the ages of 6 to 8. He admitted that he had been in a relationship with a woman in Florida who had a 13-year-old and a 4-year-old child. He admitted that he had sex in front of those children, and fondled the 13-year-old. He would explain that he wanted a ‘sexual family.’ He would ask her to recruit friends for him, and he wanted her to call him ‘daddy.'”
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In another example, a woman from Australia alleged Kohut told her in 2003 “that he was searching for a woman who he can impregnate, and will then ‘raise their children sexually.’ He then asked [the woman] if she would let him impregnate and raise their child sexually.”
“Defendant told her that if he had a daughter, he would want to impregnate her at the age of 10 and raise that child sexually as well. He also admitted to having sexual encounters with other children in the past.”
“Finally, he asked her to find him children. He wanted her to volunteer as a homeless shelter or do babysitting jobs and find children that she would molest and he would then listen to them over the phone,” the document alleges.
The accusations are spread across multiple states and have been investigated by multiple agencies that include the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Seaside Police, Australian Federal Police and the FBI, the document states.
Case Opened After Video Surfaced
California authorities charged Kohut and two nurses following an investigation that began May 9 when police in Watsonville, California, received information and a video “that showed several adults engaging in lewd acts with children as young as 3 years of age,” police alleged in a statement at the time of the arrests.
In addition to Kohut, police identified Rashel Brandon, 42, of Watsonville, and Emily Stephens, 29, of Tucson, Arizona. Both women were charged with lewd and lascivious acts with force with a child under 14; sending harmful matter with intent to seduce a minor; specific sex acts of a child under 10 and sexual acts with force with a child under 14.
Kohut allegedly had affairs with both women, and according to an arrest warrant served on Stephens’ in Arizona by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, children allegedly were abused during one of those sexual encounters, repots KSBW.
It was not immediately clear if Brandon and Stephens have entered pleas or retained attorneys.
Court documents state that seven children connected to the case have been placed in protective custody.