Dr. Jonathan Yates ...

Dr. Jonathan Yates, 51, was arrested without incident at his home by Special Agents of the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the Bluefield, Va. Police Department.

BECKLEY — A plea hearing was rescheduled Friday in federal court for a Bluefield, Va. physician who formerly worked for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Beckley and was charged in a criminal complaint which included sexually molesting a veteran.

Dr. Jonathan Yates, 51, of Bluefield, Va., was scheduled for a plea hearing Friday, but this hearing was rescheduled to Aug. 3 before District Judge Frank Volk, according to court records at the District Clerk’s Office in Beckley. No plea had been entered as of Friday.

A federal magistrate ruled in April that the case has probable cause.

According to the criminal complaint, while working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in February 2019, Yates examined a male patient identified as Veteran 1, and during the examination Yates sexually molested that veteran. Yates caused Veteran 1 severe pain and numbness, and temporarily incapacitated him by cracking his neck, after Veteran 1 had explicitly requested Yates not to crack his neck.

While Veteran 1 was incapacitated, Yates sexually molested Veteran 1, according to the complaint. This conduct, performed while Yates was acting under color of law in his capacity as a federal employee at the VAMC, deprived Veteran 1 of his constitutional right to bodily integrity.

Deprivation of rights under color of law, as charged in the complaint, is punishable by up to life in prison. 

Special Agent Georgia Marshall of the FBI, who is assigned to the Huntington resident agency out of the bureau’s Pittsburgh division, testified at the preliminary hearing that the nature of the complaint was “inappropriate contact of a sexual nature during a medical appointment.”

Veteran 1 had sought a referral for massage therapy to address complaints including chronic back pain and pains in his hips, fingers and toes. Marshall said the veteran told Yates not to touch his neck because it was particularly sensitive. The incident took place in an examination room, and Yates and Veteran 1 were the only people there at that time.

Marshall said that the veteran told FBI investigators that Yates started by massaging his chest hair, but then commented about the amount of hair on his chest and called him “a real man.” She also testified that the Veteran said that Yates stated that it was normal to get “sexual arousal” during such appointments, and that Yates did not stop when Veteran 1 asked him to do so. During the examination, Yates touched Veteran 1’s genitalia, she stated during the preliminary hearing.

During the incident, Yates performed a “neck crack” on Veteran 1 without warning him that he was about to do it, she told the court.

“He said that he experienced pain and numbness throughout his body and could not move,” Marshall testified. Yates then rolled the veteran onto his stomach without permission. At one point, Yates slapped Veteran 1’s backside.

Marshall said investigators consulted another osteopathic physician who said it is possible to immobilize a person with a neck crack if that person’s neck is particularly sensitive. The doctor the FBI consulted also stated there was “no medical reason” to touch Veteran 1’s genitalia.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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