Bail set at $6.4M for Santa Cruz surgeon charged with child rape

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Watsonville Police Department shows Dr. James Kohut. Authorities said the former brain surgeon charged with raping kids in Northern California sought to impregnate women to have sex with their children. (Watsonville Police Department via AP, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A judge set bail at $6.45 million on Wednesday for a Northern California brain surgeon charged with sexually abusing children.

Prosecutors had opposed bail for Dr. James Kohut, saying the neurologist is a public danger who recruits women to help find child victims.

The Santa Cruz district attorney’s office said Kohut also discussed impregnating women to give birth to children he could sexually abuse in a so-called taboo family lifestyle.

Prosecutors have said there is no evidence he created such a family, but they have charged him with 11 counts of sexually abusing children under the age of 14.

Kohut has pleaded not guilty.

His lawyer, Jay Rorty, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment but has previously declined the prosecutor’s allegations. Rorty argued in court papers that Kohut does not represent a danger to the public or a flight risk.

Kohut was arrested in his Santa Cruz, California home last month along with two nurses who are charged with participating in child sex abuse with the 57-year-old doctor.

If Kohut does post bail, he will be monitored electronically. He voluntarily suspended his California medical license while the case is pending and faces 165 years in prison if convicted.

Kohut was arrested four days after police arrested Rashel Brandon, a nurse who worked with the surgeon at a nearby hospital.

Brandon was arrested after her husband gave police a video recording he found that investigators say shows Brandon and another nurse, Emily Stephens, sexually abusing children.

Court records and lawyers said Brandon implicated Kohut. Brandon is also charged with sexually abusing children and her bail has been set at $500,000.

Stephens was arrested in Tuscon, Arizona and is being held there while Santa Cruz authorities seek a court-ordered transfer to Northern California to face similar charges.

Brandon’s attorney Anthony Robinson did not immediately respond phone message seeking comment. It is unclear if Stephens has retained an attorney.

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