On Monday, U.S. District Judge Frank W. Volk sentenced Jonathan Yates, 52, of Bluefield, Virginia, to 25 years in prison and an additional three years of supervised probation for depriving veterans of their civil rights by sexually abusing them while under his care, according to the Department of Justice. Yates was a doctor of osteopathic medicine who worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia.
Last September, Yates had pleaded guilty to three felony counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, which means that he committed the crimes while on duty. According to the plea documents, Yates molested three veterans under the guise of legitimate medicine, when in fact he acted without a legitimate medical purpose.
According to the plea documents, the veterans had sought treatment from Yates in order to manage chronic pain through osteopathic manipulative therapy.
Yates was arrested in April last year and was indicted by a grand jury in May.
Several veterans addressed the court describing the trauma and mental anguish that Yates had caused them. Yates surrendered his medical licenses as a condition of his plea agreement.
While treating the veterans, Yates immobilized them temporarily, one by cracking his neck and another with the use of acupuncture needles, according to the indictment. He then molested them by rubbing their genitals while they were incapacitated.
Yates also admitted to digitally penetrating a third veteran’s rectum without any medical purpose.
“The sentence today reflects the seriousness of this defendant’s misconduct. In a despicable betrayal of his oath, he used his specialized medical knowledge and expertise to sexually abuse his own patients. He has now been held accountable,’ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory B. Friel of the Civil Rights Division said. “It is a testament to the bravery of our veterans that so many came forward to bring this defendant to justice.”
“Military veterans who serve and sacrifice to protect our nation deserve only the best of care. Yates betrayed his oath as a physician and the veterans under his care,” U.S. Attorney of the Southern District Mike Stuart said. “Today, Yates has been called to account for his heinous acts. While his prison sentence will not undo the significant harm Yates inflicted on the victims, we hope that it will ease their pain. I want to commend the incredible work of the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs-OIG in this investigation. I also want to thank the victims and their families for their unwavering support during the prosecution of this case.”
“Yates committed hideous crimes in a hospital room, which should be a sanctuary for patients,” Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Christman of the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI, said. “The facts of this case are disgusting and these patients and their families deserved better care. While today’s sentence won’t take away what happened to these patients who dedicated their lives in service to our nation, Yates will never be able to hurt anyone again. Hopefully, this will serve as justice for his victims.”
“This sentence is the culmination of the exceptional work of the Office of the Inspector General special agents and our law enforcement partners,” VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal, added. “Our thoughts are with the veterans who suffered horrific abuse by a doctor entrusted with their care, and we remain vigilant in our efforts to keep all VA patients safe from harm.”
The case was a joint investigation by the FBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the Veterans Affairs Police Department.