College Student's Suicide Caused by Doctor's Sexual Abuse, Parents Claim in Lawsuit

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Parents of former UC Berkeley student Elgin Stafford claim that a doctor at the university health center molested their son, which caused trauma that eventually led to his suicide, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Alameda County.

In their complaint, Annie and Mike Stafford accuse Dr. Robert Kevess of performing "unnecessary, inappropriate, and prolonged genital and anal examinations," including "prolonged genital stimulation resulting in ejaculation." The charges include sexual battery and assault.

The acts occurred over at least three appointments at the University Health Service's Tang Center in May and June 2010. In April 2011, Kevess resigned after another student accused him of inappropriate sexual contact. Kevess, according to the San Jose Mercury News, is currently facing 19 felony counts, including sexual exploitation of multiple patients, sexual battery with false professional purpose. His medical license has since been suspended.

Stafford, 23, committed suicide on March 29, 2012, "as a result of the severe emotional trauma he endured as a result of the sexual assault and battery he endured at the hands of Kevess," the suit alleges.

As Kevess treated Stafford for an STD diagnosis, the suit claims, his "shockingly prolonged prostate exams ... transitioned into acts of molestation ... under the guise of what he told [Stafford] were normal procedures."

In the months that followed, the complaint goes on, Stafford "was plagued with nightmares of sexual violation" and "felt intense shame, humiliation, and anger." Stafford, who had worked as a congressional intern for Rep. Karen Bass, was studying for a master's degree in public diplomacy at USC. But he took the semester off starting in January because of anxiety and panic attacks, reported the Contra Costa Times.

The Staffords also charged the UC Board of Regents with negligence, alleging that it failed to properly supervise Kevess and neglected to investigate previous molestation accusations against him. Medical records from before May 2010 show "that a sexualized response had occurred while Kevess was alone with a gay male patient and performing an intimate exam," the claim states.

"Prior to incidents between Kevess and [Stafford]," the suit alleges, "other male patients had complained about sexual inappropriate behavior of Kevess."

H/t to Courthouse News Service.

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