Former campus doctor faces charges

Photo: Former University Health Services doctor Robert Kevess, left, is accused of committing sex crimes against patients. Alleged crimes include sexual penetration with a foreign object.
Michael Gethers/Staff
Former University Health Services doctor Robert Kevess, left, is accused of committing sex crimes against patients. Alleged crimes include sexual penetration with a foreign object.

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

Robert Kevess, who worked for University Health Services for nearly 22 years, is alleged to have committed the sex crimes against six former patients beginning in 2006. The charges include four counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious victim - meaning the victims were unaware of the nature of the acts because they occurred during a medical exam - as well as seven counts of sexual battery committed with false professional purpose and eight counts of sexual exploitation of a patient.

Kevess pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment Thursday at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

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

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

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."

Kevess has been placed on interim suspension from his profession, meaning that he will not practice medicine for the duration of the case, according to his attorney, Robert Beles.

According to the charges, filed in Alameda County 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 July 2010.

According to the statement, one of Kevess' former patients met with Buchman March 23 and detailed the alleged sex crimes. Once University Health Services heard the allegations, it notified UCPD, and Kevess was placed on administrative leave March 31 after he returned from a weeklong 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," Birgeneau said in a statement Thursday morning. "On behalf of the entire Berkeley campus, we deeply regret any harm that has been caused."

Beles said the case was "grossly overcharged."

"The plea is not guilty," Beles said. "We will be making motions to dismiss the charges of the complaint."

Bennett said it is possible that other victims could come forward as the case evolves, saying that UCPD is still conducting an "active investigation." She said former patients who believe they may have had sexual contact with Kevess in the past are encouraged to contact UCPD.

Campus 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.

"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," said Covello and Buchman in their statement. "We are convinced that, together, we can surmount the challenges before us, continue to provide excellent care for our patients and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure we retain your trust and confidence."


Emma Anderson of The Daily Californian contributed to this report. Contact Jordan Bach-Lombardo and Sarah Burns at [email protected]

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