A doctor who worked at UC Berkeley’s Health Services for more than 20 years has been charged with 19 counts of sexual battery
and sexual exploitation for having sex with at least six of his male patients.
Over a period of at least five years, Robert Kevess, 52, of Oakland used his position as a doctor at the Tang Health Center at 2222 Bancroft Way to allegedly fondle his male patients’ genitalia, digitally penetrate them, and have oral
and anal sex with them, according to an indictment announced Thursday by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. Some of the times the patients were unconscious of the nature of the assault because Kevass said it was a medical procedure, according to the indictment.
“It’s very serious in that the alleged perpetrator is a medical doctor in whom people placed extra trust,” said Teresa Drenick, a deputy district attorney.
Kevess’ attorney, Robert Beles, said that his client was innocent. While he did have sexual relations with some of his patients, there was no coercion.
“Everything was consensual,” said Bales. “It’s professional bad judgment having consensual activity with patients, but it was consensual.”
Kevess, who was also medical director and doctor at the Berkeley Free Clinic, has resigned from UC and has turned in his medical license, said Bales. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2 pm today and will plead not guilty, said Bales.
UC Berkeley officials expressed regret at the event and set up a special phone line for others to report possible abuse.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news that a former University Health Services staff physician, Robert Kevess, MD, has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney with engaging in illegal sexual contact with some of his male patients,” Claudia Covello, the executive director of health services and Brad Buchman, the medical director, said in a statement. “These allegations, if proven to be true, stand in stark opposition to everything we stand for and believe in as professionals dedicated to providing high-quality care for our patients.”
Kevess allegedly used his position as a doctor to touch and have sex with his patients, according to the indictment. At times he would fondle his patients pretending that his touches were medically necessary. In some cases, Kevess treated a patient and then got involved in a relationship with him, according to the charges.
Kevess grew up in New York City and got his medical degree in 1984 from New York University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Family Medicine in 1988 at San Francisco General Hospital. He specialized in depression and anxiety, dermatology, migraines, men’s health, gay men’s health, and transgender health, including hormone treatements, according to a NYU Medical School alumni newsletter.
In addition to working at the Health Center, Kevess also gave lectures in various UC Berkeley courses.
On his Facebook page, Kevess describes himself as an “Iconoclastic, a freethinker, and goofy at times; kind, thoughtful, and caring (I hope); passionate about helping others; concerned about the state of the world and where it’s headed; committed to my own spiritual and personal growth path.”
Kevess is an avid photographer and his portfolio on RedBubble.com included a number of images of naked men, although the vast majority are of buildings. He is also a member of that site’s “The Male Nude” group and “Bum Appreciation Group.”
One of his former patients praised his medical abilities.
“Dr. Kevess is my doctor through UC Berkeley.” wrote the patient on a doctor-rating site. “I have had a wealth of frustrating medical experiences over the last five years involving neurological and visual problems that no one has really been able to clearly diagnose. Dr. Kevess has been the only doctor to take the time to listen to me explain all my concerns, take my worries seriously and make me feel like he genuinely cared about my health– I cannot tell you how amazing that feels after so many years of feeling ignored by so many other doctors. He treated my migraines successfully and always takes the time to check in with how I am doing. He is a really kind, caring person who takes the time to ask questions and really listen to your answers! I cannot praise doctor Kevess enough. He thoughtfully answers questions, never makes you feel rushed or bothersome and treats you like a human being rather than a number. I wish more doctors were like him.”
Update 2:25 pm: From the university: Concerned patients may also seek confidential guidance and support by calling a special line established by University Health Services at (510) 642-3738 or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, police investigators are urging former patients who believe they may have had sexual contact with the physician in the past to contact Berkeley UCPD at (510) 642-0472.