University of California
University of California

University of California reaches $243.6 million settlement for sexual abuse victims

Feb. 9, 2022
Dr. James Heaps allegedly abused hundreds of patients when he worked as a gynecologist at the UCLA student health center.

The University of California system has agreed to pay $243.6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by more than 200 people who said they were sexually abused by a gynecologist at UCLA.

The litigation stems from allegations that Dr. James Heaps, a former obstetrician and gynecologist at UCLA, abused hundreds of patients, CNN reports.

Heaps worked part-time as a gynecologist at the UCLA student health center from about 1983 to 2010 and was hired by UCLA Health in 2014.

He was arrested in June 2019 and charged with sexual battery of two former patients. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on the criminal charges.

Following his arrest, many women came forward and said Heaps also had abused them. The women accused the doctor of "inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments," removing their gowns or clothing in a "sensual manner without consent," and inappropriately touching them.

The $243.6 million settlement is separate from a November 2020 agreement. In that case, the university system agreed to provide $73 million to more than 5,000 of Heaps' victims going back to the 1980s.

"The conduct alleged to have been committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to the University's values," representatives for UCLA said. "Our first and highest obligation will always be to the communities we serve, and we hope this settlement is one step toward providing healing and closure for the plaintiffs involved."

In August 2020, Heaps was charged with eight additional counts of sexual battery by fraud, two additional counts of sexual exploitation of a patient as well as seven counts of sexual penetration of a person unconscious of the nature of the act by fraudulent representation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

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