California 'rehab mogul' convicted of luring, sexually assaulting 7 patients

A California man who dubbed himself a “rehab mogul” was convicted Monday of sexually assaulting seven female patients.

Christopher Bathum, 56, who operated 19 drug treatment and rehabilitation centers was found guilty of 31 criminal counts, including “rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible oral copulation and sexual exploitation,” The Washington Post reported.

Prosecutors said Bathum “preyed” upon female patients who were in their 20s and 30s and had substance abuse issues. Bathum reportedly lured the women with controlled substances before sexually assaulting them, People reported. A few of the assaults reportedly occurred at the treatment centers.  

“They were easy targets,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said. “They were perfect victims.”

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Bathum faces up to “65 years in state prison.” He is slated to be sentenced in April.

The Orange County Register reported Bathum also taught patients how to pass drug tests and offered perks such as using iPhones and company cars in exchange for sexual favors.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department started its probe into Bathum after authorities received a complaint.

One of Bathum’s alleged victims told “20/20” in 2016 that Bathum sexually assaulted her.

Amanda Jester said Bathum sexually assaulted her in a hotel room and in his Malibu facility.

“I have no credit card, no money, no cellphone — I felt like I had no choice,” Jester said.

Bathum denied Jester’s allegations.

“You gotta understand something,” Bathum told 20/20. “You’re in a world of accusation that’s amazingly complex that has people saying things, all kinds of crazy things that come out in a trauma-filled world. I can tell you there’s certainly easy ways to explain that.”

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The mogul is also named in a separate case where he is accused of “running a $175 million fraudulent health-care billing scheme to lure addicts to his treatment centers,” The Washington Post reported.

Bathum and his former CFO Kirsten Wallace were charged in 2016 with “31 counts of money laundering, eight counts of grand theft, six counts of identity theft and five counts of insurance fraud.”

Dave Jones, California’s insurance commissioner, called the plot “one of the largest health-insurance fraud cases in California.”

“Bathum and Wallace’s alleged conspiracy victimized hundreds of people addicted to drugs and alcohol by keeping them in a never-ending cycle of treatment, addiction, and fraud — all the while lining their pockets with millions of dollars from allegedly fraudulent insurance claims,” Jones said.  

Both Bathum and Wallace pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.