Prominent pediatrician and child abuse expert dies at 100

Kern County's Questionable Conviction

A prominent pediatrician and child abuse expert has died.      

Dr. Jess Diamond will be remembered as one of the preeminent child abuse experts in California. He served as a witness for the Kern County District Attorney’s office on hundreds of cases. 

“He walked into a room and would just light the place up,” said Judy Diamond, Dr. Diamond’s daughter-in-law.

Born on September 18,1918, Dr. Diamond grew up in New York, in The Bronx. At 24, he served as an Army Captain with the Medical Corps during World War II. But, Kern County is where he really made his mark. 

“He came to Kern County at a time when someone with his experience and professionalism was greatly needed and he really changed the lives of a lot of kids, not only as a witness, but as a pediatrician,” said Lisa Green, Kern County District Attorney.

After working in hospitals across New York and Illinois, in 1980, Dr. Diamond came to Bakersfield as the new chair of Kern Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics. 

He was also used as an expert witness in many child sexual abuse cases throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Significantly, he was part of the reversed guilty charge against Vicente Figueroa Benavides, who was sentenced to death in 1991 for allegedly sexually abusing and killing 21-month-old Consuelo Verdugo. 

In 2009, Dr. Diamond, who testified for the prosecution in 1993 that the child was raped, recanted his testimony. This was after he says he got the girl’s medical records that made him change his mind.

“He was an honest person, and he always tried doing the right thing, so I’m sure he believed in what he was doing,” said Green.

Dr. Diamond retired in June 1999, at age 81, but he continued to work as a volunteer. 

Today at his funeral, his family remembered the caring man he was.

“He absolutely loved the children, there wasn’t something he wouldn’t do,” said Diamond.

Dr. Diamond passed away at 100 years old.

He is survived by his wife Ann, three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More Local News