OAKLAND — Robert Kevess, a former Tang Center doctor who was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of sexually assaulting six male patients, appeared at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.
After listening to several testimonies, Judge Thomas Rogers ruled that there was enough evidence to move forward with charges of sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual battery under false professional purpose.
Kevess worked for the Tang Center for 22 years but resigned in spring 2011 when allegations of sex crimes were brought against him based on statements from several former patients who came forward. Soon after, he was arrested and charged with 19 felony counts of alleged sexual assault but was released on $745,000 bail.
Since his release, Kevess has appeared for pretrial hearings, but the case has been slow to move forward due to scheduling difficulties and appeals by the defense to dismiss certain charges based on constitutionality issues, which were recently denied.
“This case has really dragged along, but hopefully it will be resolved within the next six months,” said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Chris Infante.
Two of Kevess’ former patients testified at the hearing but chose to remain anonymous and were identified as John Doe 5 and John Doe 7.
John Doe 5 alleged Kevess touched him for an excessively long time during a genital and rectal exam in spring 2010, which made him feel “uncomfortable.” He alleged that he was later messaged by Kevess on Adam4Adam, a gay dating and hookup website, and was invited to visit Kevess at his home.
Kevess’ attorney Robert Beles, however, said John Doe 5’s claims did not present a legal violation and that Kevess’ medical examination was “not inappropriate at all.”
John Doe 7, a student at UC Berkeley, alleged that during a prostate exam with Kevess, the situation “became more of a role play type fantasy,” alleging Kevess performed oral copulation on him and offered a follow up visit at his home.
According to Beles, John Doe 7’s fantasizing made him an active participant who was fully aware of the situation, which he said helped his client’s defense, as a charge of sexual battery under false professional purpose requires an unaware patient.
UCPD Sgt. Nicole Miller also gave a testimony based on interviews she conducted during her investigation. She presented specific accounts from three former patients of Kevess and alleged that they also experienced excessive touching during prostate and genital examinations.
Of the 19 charges brought against Kevess in 2011, the judge dropped 10 and approved one new charge.
The 10 charges approved by the judge are alleged felony violations of the California Business and Professions Code and the Penal Code of California and consisted of five counts of sexual exploitation of a patient and five counts of sexual battery under false professional purpose. One of the counts of sexual battery under false professional purpose was newly added, based on Miller’s testimony for John Doe 3. Out of these charges, however, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will ultimately determine the final charges against Kevess.
“I wish we had more thrown out,” Beles said. “It was a partial victory.”
An arraignment hearing is scheduled for the morning of April 8 at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, during which the final charges will be presented against Kevess.