BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — 1:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020: A doctor accused in a sexual abuse case involving veterans pleaded guilty on Thursday. Jonathan Yates, 51, of Bluefield, Virginia admitted to three counts of depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law.
Yates was previously indicted on five counts of the offense under Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 242, and two counts of abusive sexual contact, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2244(b). He was a doctor of osteopathic medicine working at the Beckley VA Medical Center (VAMC) at the time.
During the hearing on Thursday, Yates admitted to the sexual abuse under the guise of legitimate medicine in three instances. According to court records, the incidents deprived the victims of their constitutional right to bodily integrity and caused them pain. The plea states the veterans were treated by Yates to manage chronic pain through osteopathic manipulative therapy.
“This doctor abused his position of trust by preying on veterans who came to him for medical treatment,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “As this prosecution demonstrates, he will now be held accountable for using his position as a VA physician to deceive and molest his patients.”
“By virtue of today’s plea agreement, Yates stands convicted of heinous criminal acts committed against military veterans who served our country honorably and with great sacrifice,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart for the Southern District of West Virginia. “Throughout this matter, from the commencement of this investigation to today’s plea, our focus has been on seeking justice for these veterans by holding Yates accountable for these terrible acts.”
“What occurred at the Beckley VA Medical Center is particularly despicable because this abuse was at the hands of a doctor who was entrusted with providing compassionate and supportive care to veterans,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “The result today was due to the tireless and dedicated efforts of the VA OIG investigators and our law enforcement partners. This doctor will no longer be able to prey on the trust of those who have dedicated their lives in service to our nation.”
A sentencing hearing for Yates is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2021. He faces up to 30 years in prison.
4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020: The case of sex crimes involving a former doctor at the Beckley VA Medical Center (VAMC) is seeing new developments. Jonathan Yates agreed to plead guilty to eight charges on July 7, 2020. However, a court order dated Aug. 17 indicates the state would move to strike an allegation from the indictment.
As a result, his guilty plea hearing was continued until 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 4 at the Federal Courthouse in Beckley.
A criminal trial scheduled for Aug. 25, 2020 was also postponed. It will be held on Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. This is planned in case the plea deal falls through, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pretrial motions are being heard on Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. in front of the Honorable Omar Aboulhosn.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 7 p.m. UPDATE: A former doctor at the Beckley VA Medical Center was indicted on multiple charges.
A federal grand jury in Charleston returned a seven count indictment on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Dr. Jonathan Yates was charged with five counts of depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law and two counts of abusive sexual contact. The indictment alleges Dr. Yates examined six men at the Beckley VA Medical Center and sexually molested them between September 2018 and February 2019.. The indictment also alleges that Yates temporarily immobilized two of the veterans by cracking one the individual’s necks and using acupuncture needles on the other. He then allegedly sexually molested them while they were both incapacitated.
The indictment also alleges his abuse caused five of the veterans to suffer bodily injury. He also reportedly engaged in sexual contact with five of the veterans without their consent.
If convicted, Yates faces life in prison. The case is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Samantha Trepel and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey of the Southern District of West Virginia.
This investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5342).
BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Disturbing allegations arose from patients at the Beckley VA medical center.
Attorney Stephen New, who is representing these patients, said veterans, who were there seeking help, claim they began to feel uncomfortable with their treatment.
“Indicating that they had been fondled in a way that was outside what they thought they were going there for,” New said.
Thirty-seven victims came forward with concerns about their doctor. Of them, 14 filed formal complaints with the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine. The Executive Director of the Board confirmed they received those complaints on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, and one previous complaint. All of those complaints are against Dr. Jonathan Yates.
“The idea was they would be getting manipulation and sort of alternative medicine that didn’t involve prescriptions. Then that manipulation turned into something that was a violation of their privacy,” New said.
The Beckley VA released this statement regarding the allegations:
“As soon as the Beckley VA Medical Center discovered these allegations, we immediately brought them to the attention of the VA’s independent inspector general on June 12. Additionally, the Beckley VAMC fired the individual at the center of these allegations. VA has made clear it will hold employees accountable when they fail to live up to the high standards Veterans and taxpayers expect, and that’s exactly what happened in this case. This is an isolated incident and as the independent IG said, the facility ‘has taken steps to ensure the immediate safety of its patients.’ VA is cooperating fully with the independent IG’s ongoing investigation.”
New wants Dr. Yates held accountable, both by the board of medicine, and by the court of law.
“You have to follow a process called the Federal Torte Claims Act. We are in that process now, which may or may not lead to a civil lawsuit in federal court against the VA and the Office of Personnel Management,” New said.
With multiple agencies investigating these allegations, New hopes his clients, who fought for our country, will receive justice.
“They were wronged. That’s why this was so important. Not just who they are, but the fact that a person in a position of trust wronged them,” New said.