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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Former Veterans Affairs Doctor Indicted on Multiple Civil Rights Charges

A federal grand jury in Charleston, West Virginia, today returned a seven-count indictment charging Dr. Jonathan Yates, 51, with federal civil rights and abusive sexual contact offenses. Yates, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who formerly worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia, is charged with five counts of depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, and two counts of abusive sexual contact, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2244(b). He was previously charged in a criminal complaint with depriving a veteran of his civil rights under color of law.

The indictment alleges that between September 2018 and February 2019, while working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dr. Yates examined six male patients, identified in the indictment as Veterans One through Six, and sexually molested them during their appointments. The indictment alleges that Yates temporarily immobilized two of the veterans – one by cracking his neck, and the other with the use of acupuncture needles – and sexually molested them while they were incapacitated. The indictment also alleges that his abuses caused five of the veterans to suffer bodily injury. This conduct, performed while Dr. Yates was acting under color of law in his capacity as a federal employee at the VAMC, deprived Veterans One through Five of their constitutional right to bodily integrity. The indictment also alleges that Yates knowingly engaged in sexual contact with Veterans Two and Six without their consent.

This investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5342).

An indictment is merely a formal accusation of criminal conduct. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If convicted, Yates faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband and U.S. Attorney Michael B. Stuart for the Southern District of West Virginia commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the Veterans Affairs Police Department in this matter.

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.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at http://www.wvsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.wvsd.uscourts.gov/.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
20-446
Updated May 12, 2020