BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Dr. Jonathan Yates, the former Whole Health Director at the Beckley VA Medical Center (VAMC), was arrested in connection with an FBI investigation. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Dr. Yates is accused of Deprivation of Rights Under Color of the Law under Title 18 of the U.S. Code § 242. Court documents say this resulted in bodily injury and kidnapping.
Dr. Yates is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. He performed osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT) at the Beckley VAMC. He worked at the VA from April 2018 to June 2019.
The FBI investigation began in June 2019 based on allegations from patients at the Beckley VAMC that Dr. Yates had sexually abused them. A total of four veterans were involved in the investigation.
The charges against Dr. Yates involved an appointment on Feb. 20, 2019. The victim is a U.S. Army veteran with a 100-percent service-connected disability. According to court documents he was seeking a referral to continue massage therapy.
The victim told investigators Dr. Yates locked the examination room door and performed questionable acts during the treatment. This included immobilizing the veteran with a neck crack the victim had specifically instructed Dr. Yates not to perform.
Investigators referenced VA Medical Records and spoke with an independent expert in osteopathic manipulative treatment. Based on the testimony of the four veterans, the expert told investigators several of the treatments described were not legitimate.
Dr. Yates was arrested at his home on Thursday, April 2, 2020. At least two of the veterans in the investigation are being represented by a civil attorney.
This investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5342). Deprivation of rights under color of law as charged in the complaint is punishable by up to life in prison.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) requested the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hold a hearing to look into the matter.
“Just like Veterans and family members across West Virginia, I am outraged and disgusted by the newly revealed details of sexual abuse and deprivation of civil rights of Veterans by a former doctor at the Beckley, WV Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC)… I urge the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, under your leadership, to immediately investigate how these assaults went undetected for so long and the VA hiring practices that put a serial abuser in a position of power.”
The complete text of the letter is below:
Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Tester,
Just like Veterans and family members across West Virginia, I am outraged and disgusted by the newly revealed details of sexual abuse and deprivation of civil rights of Veterans by a former doctor at the Beckley, WV Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). It is unthinkable that someone in a position of power would exploit our brave Veterans and I am glad the FBI acted to remove this former doctor and deliver justice for those who were abused.
In September 2019, I called for a criminal and VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) investigation after learning of allegations of sexual abuse of more than a dozen Veterans. While this arrest is an important first step towards obtaining justice for victims, in the interest of restoring public confidence across West Virginia, I urge the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, under your leadership, to immediately investigate how these assaults went undetected for so long and the VA hiring practices that put a serial abuser in a position of power.
West Virginia Veterans deserve answers and Veterans across our country deserve the assurance these abuses will not occur at their local VA facilities. The ongoing Inspector General investigation has been underway for at least seven months. I have called on the VA, the VAOIG, and the Department of Justice to use all resources available to quickly conclude their investigations and reviews and asked if they needed any new authorities or additional resources to make that happen. We must ensure that justice is served and transparency is prioritized. We have a responsibility to ensure that something like this could never happen again.
As you know all too well, Veterans have made unimaginable sacrifices and they deserve answers when the facilities they trust to take care of them fail. It is our responsibility to use every tool at our disposal to get to the bottom of what has happened to Veterans under the care of the Beckley VAMC.
Throughout this investigation, let us not forget that there are Veterans who are suffering because of this terrible situation. Finally, I ask that you do everything possible to ensure the VA provides these Veterans and families with support, and any resource they may need during this time.U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)