California Brain Surgeon Accused of Child Abuse Found Dead in Jail Cell: Reports

October 14, 2019 Updated: October 14, 2019

A Northern California brain surgeon who was on trial for sexually assaulting children was found dead in his jail cell.

According to The Associated Press, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office confirmed James Kohut was found dead in his jail cell on Sunday. He was alone.

Officials are trying to determine the manner and cause of his death.

A preliminary investigation revealed that Kohut, 59, may have killed himself, officials told AP.

Kohut was awaiting trial on dozens of sex abuse charges and was in custody since his arrest in May 2017.

Jail authorities also told People magazine that he was seen alive not long before corrections officers found his body. An autopsy will be performed later this week to figure out the cause of death.

Rashel Brandon (L) and Emily Stephens in mugshots. (Watsonville Police Department)

SFGate also reported that he was being held in the jail’s protective housing unit and was found when breakfast service began.

Kohut and two nurses, 44-year-old Rashel Brandon and 31-year-old Emily Stephens, were arrested two years ago on suspicion of running a human trafficking ring. Kohut faces 11 counts of child abuse while Brandon and Stephens were facing four counts, People reported.

Kohut had pleaded not guilty to the charges, as did Brandon and Stephens.

Following his arrest in 2017, the California state medical board revoked his medical license.

Prosecutors had alleged that “for nearly 20 years,” the surgeon displayed “a sexual compulsion, and has solicited victims for decades.” Due to the disturbing nature of the allegations, The Epoch Times has chosen not to publish further details.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

Police tape is shown in Toronto, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
Police tape is shown in a stock photo (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend. Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.