Former Doctor Accused of Child Sex Crimes Found Dead Inside Jail Cell

James Kohut
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office

A former neurosurgeon and accused child molester was found dead of an apparent suicide inside his cell in Santa Cruz, California, over the weekend.

Officers at the Santa Cruz County Jail discovered 59-year-old James Kohut’s body around 5:45 a.m. Sunday morning when the breakfast service began.

Reports said he did not share his cell that was located in the protective housing unit with another inmate.

“The Coroner’s Division, detectives and crime scene investigators are conducting a death investigation to determine the cause and manner of death. An autopsy will be performed later this week, but an early assessment by the forensic pathologist indicates Kohut likely took his own life,” according to SF Gate.

Kohut was arrested in May of 2017 along with two nurses, Emily Joy Stephens and Rashel Melina Brandon, after Watsonville police suspected them of running a child sex ring.

Authorities said they discovered sex videos, taken on January 1 and May 9, 2017, which showed the defendants raping 3-year-old and 10-year-old boys several times.

“The neurosurgeon, who worked at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz at the time of his arrest, allegedly had affairs with Brandon, Stephens, and more mothers. Children were sexually abused during some of their encounters,” according to KSBW.

Reports said the state board revoked Kohut’s medical license a month after his arrest.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ashley Keehn said Kohut had been on suicide watch a few months prior to his death, but was not being watched at the time of his alleged suicide.

“There was no indication in the past several months that he would or wanted to harm himself,” she stated.

Keehn told the Monterey Herald that an investigation was currently underway to determine exactly how Kohut died.

“That’s something that we are investigating and that will most likely be released after the autopsy report on cause and manner of death,” she concluded.


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