A high school soccer coach who allegedly posed as a doctor and examined patients in motel rooms and his van has been charged with practicing medicine without a license and stealing from one of his victims.
Jesus Valencia Gomez, 45, who pleaded not guilty in Whittier Municipal Court to a series of misdemeanor and felony counts, including sexual battery, was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Gomez, the assistant boys soccer coach at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Springs since 1991, allegedly introduced himself as a physician to players and fans at soccer matches. He handed out two sets of business cards, one identifying him as a doctor, the other as a dentist, although he is not licensed to practice medicine or dentistry in California, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Mel Apodaca said.
When sheriff’s investigators arrested Gomez at his Whittier apartment this week, they found anesthetics used by dentists, rubbing alcohol, gauze, long silver scissors, five sets of dental impressions, dental mirrors, syringes, antibiotics, a stethoscope and prescription pads, Apodaca said. Much of the medication appeared to have been purchased in Mexico, probably over the counter, he said.
Gomez allegedly told one of his patients, a 24-year-old Montebello woman, that she had cancerous tumors on her neck and head, and performed a phony operation in June at a Pico Rivera motel room. The woman, a soccer enthusiast who met Gomez at a match last year, told authorities she was drugged and a section of her head shaved and bandaged during the procedure. She went to sheriff’s investigators this month when she realized there was no scar beneath the bandage.
Investigators said Gomez examined the woman numerous times over the last year at motels in the Southeast area, fondling her and drawing blood from her shoulder. He also is accused of stealing $2,700 from her blouse on one occasion. Another time, he allegedly drove her to Tijuana, where another doctor performed surgery on her lower neck to treat the purported tumors.
“He told me he wanted to look after my health and that it made him sad that I was going to die so young,” the woman said. “He gave me a lot of medicine. Instead of making me feel good, it made me feel worse.”
She said she has not gone to another doctor to see if she has tumors.
At Santa Fe High School, soccer players and athletic coaches were shocked at the news of the arrest of Gomez, who helped coach boys soccer the last two seasons. They described him as “respectful, well-groomed and mild mannered.”
Carlos Casillas, head boys soccer coach, said Gomez introduced himself about three years ago as Dr. Gomez, a dentist trained in Mexico who practiced in Tijuana. Authorities said they did not know if he had any medical or dental training.
Gomez worked as a temporary seasonal coach, earning about $800 a year, Casillas said.
The head coach said he did not know of any players who had been treated by Gomez, although one told him that the assistant coach performed about $350 worth of dental work on a girlfriend this year.
So far, the Montebello woman is the only alleged victim to contact authorities, but investigators are interviewing others who may have been treated by Gomez, sheriff’s Detective Gabriel Velasquez said.
A Medical Board of California investigator said the case was an example of the type of abuses that sometimes occur in poor communities, where residents often do not have access to--or cannot afford--conventional medical care.
Times correspondent Psyche Pascual contributed to this story.