BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The parents of a former University of California at Berkeley student have filed suit against a former university doctor, alleging that their son committed suicide because he had been sexually molested by the doctor.
The parents of 23-year-old Elgin Stafford, Annie and Mike Stafford, also named UC Regents in their lawsuit, alleging that the university was negligent in supervising Dr. Robert Kevess, who worked at the university’s health center for nearly 22 years. Kevess was charged last year with a number of felony counts involving allegations that he sexually assaulted six male patients.
The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday, says Stafford was “repeatedly sexually violated and abused” by Kevess, 53, while being diagnosed and treated for a sexually transmitted disease in 2010.
The suit said Stafford’s “sense of trust and wellbeing was severely undermined” and that he “was plagued with nightmares of sexual violation, felt intense shame, humiliation and anger” and was suicidal.
Stafford’s body was found floating in the Dominguez Channel in Carson in Los Angeles County on March 29.
The suit says Stafford died “as a result of the severe emotional trauma he endured at the hands of Kevess.”
The suit seeks unspecified damages from Kevess and UC.
Kevess’ attorney, Robert Beles, said, “We have great sympathy for the Stafford family but we adamantly deny that any of the alleged conduct by Dr. Kevess caused Elgin Stafford’s psychological problems or his death.”
Beles also said the suit filed by Stafford’s parents doesn’t mention his cause of death or verify that it was ruled a suicide.
However, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said the cause of Stafford’s death was drowning and the “mode” was suicide.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “We’re sad to learn about this young man’s death but we reject any allegation that UC was negligent in this situation.”
Mogulof said that Kevess had passed all of his credentialing reviews, including a review in June 2010, before the criminal charges were filed against him in April 2011.
The charges involve alleged sexual misconduct between March 2006 and Feb. 28, 2011.
Kevess was removed from the university’s health center after the criminal charges were filed, Mogulof said. He remains free on $745,00ast year and has given up his medical license.
Kevess’ case is moving slowly, as he hasn’t yet had a preliminary hearing and no trial date has been set.
Beles said the reason the case is moving slowly is that he challenged the constitutionality of some of the charges against Kevess.
He said a judge recently upheld the constitutionality of the charges but that he has filed an appeal with the state Court of Appeal.
The attorney who filed the suit on behalf of Stafford’s family, Andrew Treger of Los Angeles, was unavailable for comment Monday.
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