Former Tang Center physician charged with 19 counts of sex crimes

Photo: Robert Kevess, 52.
Robert Kevess, 52.

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A former UC Berkeley health center doctor was charged Wednesday by the Alameda County District Attorney with 19 counts of alleged sex crimes against former patients.

Robert Kevess, who worked for the Tang Center for nearly 22 years, is alleged to have committed the sex crimes against six former male patients beginning in 2006. The charges include four counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious victim - unconscious as in they were not aware of the act because it was during a medical exam - with a foreign object, seven counts of "sexual battery false professional purpose" and eight counts of sexual exploitation of a patient.

The patients were all male, between the ages of 18 and 42 and students at the time of the alleged incidents, said UCPD Capt. Margo Bennett.

Kevess surrendered Wednesday night and was released on bail, according to Bennett. The bail for Kevess was set at $745,000, which he posted.

Kevess faces the charges under both the state's Penal Code and its Business and Professions Code for allegedly using his position as a doctor to commit the crimes. Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the alleged sex acts "were committed by fraudulent means during the course of medical treatment."

According to the charges, filed in Alameda County's state superior court, the alleged crimes occurred between March 9, 2006 and March 9, 2011.

In a statement, Claudia Covello, executive director of University Health Services, and Brad Buchman, medical director of University Health Services, said that no problems were identified during Kevess' most recent re-accreditation review in the summer of 2010.

According to the statement, one of Kevess' former patients met with Buchman on March 23 and detailed the alleged sex crimes. As soon as University Health Services heard of the allegations, they notified UCPD and he was placed in administrative leave March 31 after he returned from a week-long vacation. Kevess then resigned on April 14.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau was informed of the allegations the day after the meeting with the patient, according to the statement.

"This news is shocking and profoundly unsettling for all of us. On behalf of the entire Berkeley campus, we deeply regret any harm that has been caused," Birgeneau said in a statement this morning. "I want to commend UHS's leadership for the speed with which they have responded to the allegations and cooperated with the police investigation ... I also want to assure those affected by this behavior that we are committed to providing them with support services."

According to Buchman and Covello's statement, police investigators are encouraging former patients who believe they may have had sexual contact with Kevess in the past to contact UCPD.

"Even as we continue our comprehensive inquiry into how these incidents could have occurred, our primary focus is, as it has always been, on the needs of our patients and former patients, and on steps we can take to prevent anything remotely similar from ever happening again," their statement reads. "Despite the impact of this incident on our team of dedicated health care professionals and staff, we are convinced that, together, we can surmount the challenges before us, continue to provide excellent care for our patients and take what ever steps are necessary to ensure we retain your trust and confidence."

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said University Health Services will be conducting a "top to bottom" review of any policy associated with patient care, protection and education.

In response to the news, Graduate Assembly President-elect Bahar Navab and President Miguel Daal sent an email to members containing a list of campus resources provided to them by the Tang Center.

"We are saddened by this tragedy and the grave violations of students' trust and personal rights," The assembly's executives said in the email. "We want to emphasize the level of trust and respect we have for the current Tang staff. We believe our campus' health center remains one of the leading college medical facilities."

An arraignment for Kevess was scheduled today for 2 p.m. at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. Drenick said the judge at the arraignment may choose to change his bail.

Clarification: A previous version of this article may have implied the charges against Kevess regarding sexual penetration with a foreign object referred to someone who was not awake. The charges refer to someone who was not aware of the act because it was during a medical exam.


Contact Jordan Bach-Lombardo and Emma Anderson at [email protected]

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