ucberkeley.jpgA doctor who worked at the University of California at Berkeley’s health center for nearly 22 years has been charged with 19 felony counts for allegedly sexually assaulting six male patients, authorities said today.

Robert Martin Kevess, 53, voluntarily turned himself in to police after being charged on Wednesday but was freed after he posted $745,000 bail, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Susan Torrence said.

He is scheduled to be arraigned at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland this afternoon.

UC Berkeley police Capt. Margo Bennett said campus police began an investigation on March 23 after a former patient came forward “with detailed allegations of illegal conduct” on the part of Kevess.

Investigators substantiated the allegations and uncovered five other victims, Bennett said.

Torrence, who specializes in prosecuting sex crimes, said, “We don’t know of any other victims at this point but once these allegations are publicized I wouldn’t be surprised if more victims came forward.”

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said it appears that Kevess “violated many ethical limits” and that the allegations “are deeply unsettling for the professional caregivers at the university’s health service.”

Mogulof said, “We still don’t fully understand how this could have happened,” because no one came forward until last month and no concerns were raised when Kevess last went through a credentialing review in June 2010.

Torrence said the charges against Kevess stem from alleged sexual misconduct between March 2006 and Feb. 28 of this year.

The victims were all students, and their ages ranged from 18 to 42, Torrence said.

The charges against Kevess include sexual penetration with a foreign object, specifically his fingers, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual battery under a false professional purpose.

Torrence said she can’t comment on the details of Kevess’ alleged misconduct except to say that “there was sexual contact far beyond what was required for the course of a medical examination.”

She said Kevess’ victims “were unconscious of the nature of his actions and he fraudulently represented his actions as a professional service.”

Torrence said that even if Kevess claims that the alleged victims consented to engage in sexual activity with him, “consent is not a defense” because she Kevess misrepresented the purpose of the touching.

“Consent is irrelevant,” Torrence said.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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  • Straight Semi-informed Doc

    I am troubled by the apparent allegations…

    DDA Torrence:
    “Torrence said she can’t comment on the details of Kevess’ alleged misconduct except to say that ‘there was sexual contact far beyond what was required for the course of a medical examination.'”

    Then she says:
    “…Kevess’ victims ‘were unconscious [unaware] of the nature of his actions and he fraudulently represented his actions as a professional service.'”

    But NOW these 6 male former patients all suddenly realize the “true nature” of his actions…that an illegal sex act was performed upon them?

    If Kevess was performing digital rectal exams (rectal penetration by finger) on male patients with symptoms referable to the prostate, bladder or rectum, or in patients at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, a rectal exam using the finger would generally be indicated.

    Medical oversight organizations are continually admonishing physicians for not performing ENOUGH DRE’s (digital rectal exams). Examination of the penis/scrotum is also indicated in these and other clinical situations, but is often avoided by physicians of both genders, usually to prevent embarrassment…the patients’, the physicians’ or both.

    Actions by Dr. Kevess that were not previously recognized as non-medical touching have now, of a sudden, been transformed into criminal acts punishable by a long prison sentence.

    UC Berkeley spokesman Mogulof says:
    “‘We still don’t fully understand how this could have happened,’ because no one came forward until last month and no concerns were raised when Kevess last went through a credentialing review in June 2010.”

    There may be more here than meets the eye. If Kevess is gay, and some or all of the “victims” are also gay, could it be that one or more is seeking revenge for some real or imagined romantic rejection? And a non-gay patient might jump in upon realizing that they’d been “examined” by a non-heterosexual doc. Homophobia runs rampant.

    Physicians are not infrequently accused of inappropriate advances by patients who are themselves advancing inappropriately. Could it be that a conscientious physician, performing a needed exam conscientiously, now, in retrospect, is being “repainted” as a sex offender?

    And UC Berkeley has completely distanced itself from its suddenly-ex employee, their former “four star” physician from a “four star” medical school, according to an online physician rating site.

    It would be impossible to obtain a fair, impartial trial in the United States.

    This all seems pretty odd to me. I’ve seen this sort of thing before elsewhere, several times, in 30 years of practice (never practiced in California).

    I’m very skeptical.

  • Straight Semi-informed Doc

    I am troubled by the apparent allegations…

    DDA Torrence:
    “Torrence said she can’t comment on the details of Kevess’ alleged misconduct except to say that ‘there was sexual contact far beyond what was required for the course of a medical examination.'”

    Then she says:
    “…Kevess’ victims ‘were unconscious [unaware] of the nature of his actions and he fraudulently represented his actions as a professional service.'”

    But NOW these 6 male former patients all suddenly realize the “true nature” of his actions…that an illegal sex act was performed upon them?

    If Kevess was performing digital rectal exams (rectal penetration by finger) on male patients with symptoms referable to the prostate, bladder or rectum, or in patients at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, a rectal exam using the finger would generally be indicated.

    Medical oversight organizations are continually admonishing physicians for not performing ENOUGH DRE’s (digital rectal exams). Examination of the penis/scrotum is also indicated in these and other clinical situations, but is often avoided by physicians of both genders, usually to prevent embarrassment…the patients’, the physicians’ or both.

    Actions by Dr. Kevess that were not previously recognized as non-medical touching have now, of a sudden, been transformed into criminal acts punishable by a long prison sentence.

    UC Berkeley spokesman Mogulof says:
    “‘We still don’t fully understand how this could have happened,’ because no one came forward until last month and no concerns were raised when Kevess last went through a credentialing review in June 2010.”

    There may be more here than meets the eye. If Kevess is gay, and some or all of the “victims” are also gay, could it be that one or more is seeking revenge for some real or imagined romantic rejection? And a non-gay patient might jump in upon realizing that they’d been “examined” by a non-heterosexual doc. Homophobia runs rampant.

    Physicians are not infrequently accused of inappropriate advances by patients who are themselves advancing inappropriately. Could it be that a conscientious physician, performing a needed exam conscientiously, now, in retrospect, is being “repainted” as a sex offender?

    And UC Berkeley has completely distanced itself from its suddenly-ex employee, their former “four star” physician from a “four star” medical school, according to an online physician rating site.

    It would be impossible to obtain a fair, impartial trial in the United States.

    This all seems pretty odd to me. I’ve seen this sort of thing before elsewhere, several times, in 30 years of practice (never practiced in California).

    I’m very skeptical.