A neurosurgeon who, until recently, was employed by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and a Dominican Hospital nurse have been arrested on multiple charges of sexual offense against children.
James Kohut, 57, was arrested Sunday at a residence near the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor on 4th Avenue on one charge of oral copulation with a child under the age of 10 and two charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. He was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail and is being held without bail.
Kohut, most recently practicing in Arkansas, was one of three doctors at Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center and one of two doctors at Dominican Hospital who specialized in neurological surgery.
Kohut ended his employment with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and parent company Sutter Health in 2016, according to a representative of the organization.
Rashel Brandon, 42, was arrested May 10 and charged with 11 felonies including sodomy, oral copulation and lewd and lascivious acts with a child as well as multiple charges related to the production of child pornography.
Brandon was arrested at a residence in the 500 block of Cirvelo Street in Watsonville, which is located a half block from Ann Soldo Elementary School, according to Santa Cruz County Jail records. She has been employed by Dignity Health since June 2016, according to a LinkedIn page.
A third, unidentified suspect is in custody outside of California.
“I can confirm we have three people in custody and that this is a very serious sexual abuse case,” said Watsonville police Capt. Jorge Zamora. “I can also confirm the case crosses state lines.”
In addition to the Watsonville Police Department, other investigating agencies include the FBI, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 3,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.
The Watsonville Police Department will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Thursday to release more details regarding the case, Zamora said.
Kohut had recently joined Sparks Clinic Neuroscience Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, according to the Sparks Health System website.
Kohut earned his medical degree from Albany Medical College in 1992; he finished his internship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Department of Surgery in 1995; and finished his residency at the University of Vermont, Department of Surgery, Section of Neurological Surgery, in 2002.
Kohut received his licence to practice medicine in the state of California in 1998.
Kohut was disciplined for attempting to remove a temporal aneurysm from the right side of a 36-year-old patient’s head on May 21, 2002, when x-rays clearly showed the aneurysm was located on the left side, according to medical board records.
He was also disciplined for viewing pornography on University Medical Center computers while working at the institution as a neurosurgeon between 2002 and 2003, according to medical board records.
Kohut is married and has two college-age children.
Brandon is married and has three children.