Former Veterans Affairs doctor sentenced to prison for sexual abuse

Gavel with scales of justice in background
In September, Jonathan Yates pleaded guilty to three felony counts of sexual assault of veterans seeking treatment for chronic pain through osteopathic manipulative therapy (William_Potter / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

A former Veterans Affairs doctor was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing patients, officials announced Tuesday.

Jonathan Yates, 52, was formerly an osteopathic medicine physician who worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia.

In September, he pleaded guilty to three felony counts of sexual assault of veterans seeking treatment for chronic pain through osteopathic manipulative therapy. According to the plea documents, Yates rubbed the genitals of two veterans and digitally penetrated a third veteran's rectum "under the guise of legitimate medicine when he acted without a legitimate medical purpose," officials said.

U.S. District Judge Frank W. Volk sentenced Yates to prison time as well as three years of supervised release. Yates also surrendered his medical licenses as a condition of his plea agreement.

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“The sentence today reflects the seriousness of this defendant’s misconduct. In a despicable betrayal of his oath, he used his specialized medical knowledge and expertise to sexually abuse his own patients. He has now been held accountable,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory B. Friel of the Civil Rights Division in a statement. “It is a testament to the bravery of our veterans that so many came forward to bring this defendant to justice.”

He was sentenced today for depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law by sexually abusing them. The case was investigated by the FBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the Veterans Affairs Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Samantha Trepel and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey of the Southern District of West Virginia and Assistant Chief Kilby MacFadden of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.