Victim of former Beckley VA doctor speaks out

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A former doctor at the Beckley VA Medical Center, Jonathan Yates, admitted to three counts of deprivation of rights under color of law after he sexually abused at least 55 veterans.

One of his victims spoke with 59News, but wished to remain anonymous. He is John Doe #20.

“It’s a sad thing when you’re a vet and you’re victimized overseas and at war, and you come back to your own hometown, and you go to your nearest VA and you’re victimized again and again. Well this is the third time we’ve been victimized,” John Doe #20 said.

After years of serving in the army, he had severe back pain. He went to Dr. Jonathan Yates for help. On his fourth appointment, he said Yates inappropriately touched him.

“Once it got to that point I knew it was no longer therapy. This was way beyond that,” said John Doe #20.

Yates was convicted and sentenced to 25 years for his crimes. John Doe #20 said although the case is closed, this is far from closure for the victims.

He said after the abuse, he immediately told a hospital police officer and the hospital director, but John Doe #20 believes this goes far beyond.

“The top of the chain of the command was informed. Suddenly, she disappears to Alabama. The officer I reported it to at the VA police, suddenly he gets transferred and disappeared,” said Doe.

He said it was another three months before Yates was fired.

John Doe #20 described the scene of his abuse in a closed door, small room, where no one came to check in on Yates’ care. He believes the hospital administration needs to take some of the blame.

“For designing the place as though it’s a devil playground. That’s why he was able to prolong it for so long,” said Doe.

He hopes by bringing awareness to this case, the hospital will change their practices to better protect the veterans they serve. 59 News reached out to the Beckley VA to see if they added safety measures since the victims came forward. Representatives with the VA said they are working on a response.

The victims’ attorney, Stephen New, said all of his clients will either file or already filed civil lawsuits against the Beckley VA Medical Center. They said the hospital was negligent when they hired Former Doctor Yates, and when they continued to let him practice.

John Doe #20 also reached out to lawmakers , including U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin called on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to hold a hearing into the abuse. Manchin called on the committee 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.”

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