Former VA doctor pleads guilty to molesting patients

A former doctor at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he molested three male patients and violated their civil rights

A former doctor at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges that he molested three male patients and violated their civil rights.

Yates worked at the Beckley VA Medical Center as a doctor of osteopathic medicine, which involves hands-on treatments through stretching and massaging. His patients and victims were seeking to manage their chronic pain.

Yates also admitted to digitally penetrating a third veteran's rectum without any medical purpose.

“By virtue of today's plea agreement, Yates stands convicted of heinous criminal acts committed against military veterans who served our country honorably and with great sacrifice,” Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said in a statement.

He did not plead guilty to the two counts of abusive sexual contact, which included allegations of Yates blocking a door in one case and engaging in unwanted sexual acts with two separate veterans. The indictment from May had said six male patients in total were molested between September 2018 and February 2019.

Yates' attorney did not immediately return an email for comment.

He is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 4, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The VA is the government’s second-largest department, responsible for 9 million military veterans.