SANTA CRUZ – Dr. James Kohut, a Santa Cruz brain surgeon and accused child molester, rested his shaved head in his left hand before the hearing Thursday morning that hinged on First Amendment rights.
The 57-year-old defendant is accused of having an extramarital love triangle, and raping children as young as 3 in Santa Cruz County and elsewhere in California.
Kohut frowned as he watched Superior Court Judge John Salazar order attorneys not to tell the press about case matters not discussed in court.
“The court finds there is a reasonable likelihood, in the absence of a protective order, of prejudicial news, which would make difficult the impaneling of an impartial jury and tend to prevent a fair trial,” Salazar said. “The court will consider issuing more restrictive orders if necessary to protect the rights of the parties.”
Hired attorney Jay Rorty stood in front of Kohut and temporarily blocked the accused from news cameras in the gallery for the last hearing scheduled in the case this year. The order is in favor of Rorty’s request to restrict comments outside the courtroom to prevent unfavorable pretrial publicity.
Rorty argued that comments outside court were opinionated attacks of his client’s character. Rorty was referring to statements by Assistant District Attorney Steven Moore about the scope of the case and Brandon’s attorney Anthony Robinson’s statements about Kohut in late June.
Kohut is accused of luring women from California, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Vermont and Australia to molest their children in Santa Cruz County and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, according to court documents. He also is accused of molesting children with his conspirators, Emily Stephens, 30, of Tucson, and Rashel Brandon, 43, of Watsonville. Brandon is a nurse.
The acts were filmed on cell phones and a GoPro camera, according to court documents.
Kohut faces 48 felonies linked with molestation, sodomy and copulation with multiple children. The youngest was 3 years old, according to court documents. Stephens faces 45 felonies and Brandon faces 44 similar felonies. Kohut, Brandon and Stephens have pleaded not guilty.
The District Attorney’s Office has fought efforts to limit explanations to the press regarding the proceedings, Moore said.
Moore said the elements of the case are newsworthy: Kohut is a doctor who was entrusted to help patients while he participated in an extramarital “love triangle” and raped children.
“I don’t think that this case has been amplified in the press because of anything that the parties have said,” Moore …read more
Source:: East Bay – Health