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Former UC Berkeley doctor accused of sexually assaulting patients

Courtesy UC Police Dept.

UC Berkeley Police have arrested a campus physician who provided health services to students for over 20 years for allegedly sexually molesting patients while they underwent medical examinations.

Robert Martin Kevess, 52, of Oakland, pleaded not guilty to six counts of sexually assaulting male patients beginning in 2006 at the University Health Service’s Tang Center during an afternoon arraignment in Alameda County Superior Court Thursday. 

According to the university, one of Kevess’s patients approached the school’s health services medical director on March 23 with details of an illegal sexual encounter that occurred while he was being examined. A criminal investigation was launched into the incident, with authorities identifying at least five other alleged victims who been seen by Kevess as patients and reported that they were sexually molested.

Kevess, who was hired as a general care physician in 1989, was placed on leave from the health center on March 31. He resigned two weeks later.

Kevess surrendered to UC Police on Wednesday and was booked into Alameda County Jail. He remains free on bail after posting a $745,000 bond. His license to practice medicine in the state has been temporarily suspended, according to investigators.

In June 2010, Kevess underwent a university biennial medical re-credentialing process, which looked at complaints and other disciplinary items.

“No formal complaints had previously been submitted regarding the physician, and his most recent re-accreditation review — in July 2010 — identified no issues of concern,” Dr. Brad Buchman, medical director of the school’s Health Services, said in a written statement.

Investigators do not know whether there were additional victims who had been patients of Kevess. Victims are asked to contact UC Police’s Criminal Investigations Bureau at (510) 642-0472. Anonymous reports can be submitted through http://police.berkeley.edu/caltip.

“We continue to examine how this could have happened, and how we can assure that it will never happen again,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in a written statement. “In the meantime, I can state with complete confidence that the UHS leadership and care providers remain focused on the needs of their patients, and on providing the highest possible levels of patient care, protection and education.”

Contact the Beat at news@californiabeat.org.

4 Comments »

  • Milan Moravec said:

    University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau bleeding the public. leadership (The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture & the way senior management work)

    Cal. Chancellor’s gross over spending, inept decisions: recruits (using California tax $) out of state $50,000 tuition students that displace qualified Californians; spends $7,000,000 for consultants to do his & many vice chancellors jobs (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost); pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; Latino enrollment drops while out of state jumps 2010; tuition to Return on Investment (ROI) drops below top 10; NCAA places basketball program on probation.

    Chancellor Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar asked for, & the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies & then crafting a plan to fix them. Able oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them during his 8 year reign. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the timid regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, & the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.

    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste & inefficiencies during his 8 year reign. Faculty & staff raised issues with Birgeneau & Breslauer ($400,000 salary), but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($7,000,000) consultants to tell him & the Provost what they should have known as leaders or been able to find out from the bright, engaged people. (Prominent east-coast University accomplishing same at 0 costs)

    Cal. and Californians have been badly damaged by Chancellor Birgeneau. Good people are loosing their jobs. Cal’s leadership is either incompetent or culpable. Merely cutting out inefficiencies does not have the effect desired. But you never want a crisis to go to waste.

    Increasing Cal’s budget is not enough; we believe the best course of action for University of California is to honorably retire Cal Chancellor Birgeneau ($500,000 salary)

  • Gary Davis said:

    I am very concerned for Dr. Kevess’ rights in this case.

    After reading many articles, and wading through the spin, innuendo and self-aggrandizing hoopla provided by interviews with everyone except the physician, his friends and coworkers, and the patients, I’m left wondering if this is just a case in which a physician dated some of his patients and shared consensual sex with them.

    It appears that only ONE patient brought a complaint, which, if he is gay, may have been initiated by spite over rejection of his own amorous advances toward the doctor!

    The additional “victims” were “uncovered” by “investigators,” according to a statement by a police spokesperson. They had no complaints until they were solicited by the police!

    I think that Dr. Kevess is being hung out to dry by “The Machine.”
    He’s being processed like a can of tuna…one can sense it in the press releases, carefully crafted to harm the doctor and absolve the speakers’ bosses of any responsibility.

    This will be a high-profile case that holds promise to further the careers of several key players in the cast. Dr. Kevess is not scripted as one of the beneficiaries. He’s the guy who takes the fall in Act III.

    The warrant included language such as “UNCONSCIOUS” instead of “unaware of,” to indicate that the patients were not aware that Dr. Kevess was touching them SEXUALLY. Who can prove that a rectal exam with his finger (a common and often necessary test) wasn’t just good medical practice? The deliberate use of the word “UNCONSCIOUS” gives the visual impression that the patients had been drugged or sedated, which is not the case and is not mentioned anywhere in the charges.
    No patient was less than fully awake during any of the alleged “battery” incidents.

    Yes, “BATTERY” also appears in the Warrant, which amounts to “touching without permission,” not any violent act. If they didn’t give the doctor permission to touch them, how could they be examined? Media publication of language such as this has already prejudiced the community against a fair shake for this highly-regarded physician.

    SOMETHING STINKS IN BERKELEY !

  • Ron said:

    I had an experience with Bob where he was simply entitled in his actions with no ability to empathize with the harm he had caused me. The experience I had was not sexual but I felt exploited without question. Losing his liscense is probably one of the best experiences Bob could have in terms if being humbled. I have no doubt that he committed the acts he was accused of. Someone he employed shared a very disturbing story with me about their interactions. It was abuse of power–through Amd through.

  • OldNorseBruin said:

    If the “good” doctor did nothing wrong, why the hell did he not ride out the suspension ( until he was “cleared” of the “allegations”)???…BUT instead KEVESS RESIGNED which is tantamount to admitting GUILT!!!