Ex-UCLA gynecologist sentenced to 11 years in sex abuse case
A former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles was sentenced Wednesday to 11 years in prison for sexually abusing female patients, in a criminal trial that came after the university system made nearly $700 million in lawsuit payouts connected to the case.
Dr. James Heaps, 66, has been in custody since a jury convicted him in October of three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of two patients.
After sentencing Heaps, Judge Michael D. Carter ordered him to register as a sex offender, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
Heaps, a longtime UCLA campus gynecologist, had pleaded not guilty to 21 felony counts in the sexual assaults of seven women between 2009 and 2018. The jury found him not guilty of seven of the 21 counts and was deadlocked on the remaining charges.
Heaps was indicted in 2021 on multiple counts each of sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation.
In the wake of the scandal that erupted in 2019 following the doctor’s arrest, UCLA agreed to pay nearly $700 million in lawsuit settlements to hundreds of Heaps’ patients — a record amount by a public university amid a wave of sexual misconduct scandals by campus doctors in recent years.
UCLA patients said Heaps groped them, made suggestive comments or conducted unnecessarily invasive exams during his 35-year career. Women who brought the lawsuits said the university ignored their complaints and deliberately concealed abuse that happened for decades during examinations at the UCLA student health center, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center or in Heaps’ campus office.
At one time, he was reportedly the highest paid physician in the UC system and had treated about 6,000 patients, CBS Los Angeles reports.
More than 500 lawsuits were filed against Heaps and UCLA, accusing the school of failing to protect patients after becoming aware of the misconduct, the station says.
Heaps continued to practice until his retirement in June 2018.
- Sexual Abuse
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