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9 Feb, 2022 09:39

University to pay $243mn to victims of alleged sex abuse by gynecologist

Hundreds of US women accuse a former doctor of groping them during checkups
University to pay $243mn to victims of alleged sex abuse by gynecologist

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has agreed to pay $243.6 million to 203 women who alleged that the university’s former gynecologist-oncologist, Dr. James Heaps, sexually abused them during vaginal and breast exams. The settlement was announced on Tuesday. 

Heaps, who denies the allegations, was a faculty member at the David Geffen School of Medicine and carried out medical examinations at UCLA Health. His involvement with UCLA in various roles spanned 1983 to 2018. In a statement to the media, the university called Heaps’ alleged conduct “reprehensible.” 

“We admire the courage of the plaintiffs in coming forward and appreciate plaintiffs’ counsel’s commitment to resolving the claims,” UCLA Health said. 

“The idea that for 30 years he preyed on these women who were incredibly vulnerable – it shocks the conscience,” the plaintiffs’ co-counsel John Manly said. 

Leonard Levine, Heaps’ lawyer, reiterated that his client “has adamantly denied engaging in any of the conduct he has been accused of.” He added that Heaps remains confident he will be “totally exonerated” in court. 

Heaps currently awaits a criminal trial on charges of 21 felony counts of sexual abuse. 

In 2020, UCLA had already agreed to a $73 million class action settlement, paying out between $2,500 and $250,000 to Heaps’ former patients.