At least 11 women have filed lawsuits against Dr. Heaps accusing him of inappropriate touching and sexual comments, which served no legitimate medical purpose. For example, one woman saw Dr. Heaps in 2017 for severe pelvic pain. During the exam, she says, he improperly touched her genitals, fondled her breast and buttock, and made sexual remarks, LA Times reports.
UCLA knew about Dr. Heaps’ sexual misconduct as early as 2014, but did not try to fire him until recently, according to LA Times.
Over 115 women have come forward with concerns about their interactions with Dr. Heaps, CBS News reports.
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Accusations of Sexual Misconduct Committed by UCLA Doctor, James Heaps
New York Times reports that the recent investigation into Dr. Heaps’ past behavior was prompted by accusations of sexual assault by two patients who received care at a UCLA Health facility in 2017 and 2018. After the investigation started, the university discovered another allegation of sexual misconduct by an anonymous UCLA student in 2015, according to NYT. A fourth accusation of sexual misconduct against Dr. Heaps was discovered in February 2019, reports NYT.
Dr. Heaps worked at a student health clinic at UCLA from 1983 to 2010, was employed at a UCLA Health facility from 2014 to June 2018, and held medical staff privileges at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1988 to 2018, according to a UCLA press release. He also taught medical students during that time, according to UCLA.
In a statement UCLA said:
Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable and represents an inexcusable breach of the physician-patient relationship. We are deeply sorry … Because we know we can and must do better, in March, we initiated an independent review of our institution’s response to sexual misconduct in clinical settings. The review is examining UCLA’s response to such conduct and whether our policies and procedures to prevent, identify and address sexual misconduct are consistent with best practices…
UCLA further said that once it identifies changes that need to be made, it will implement them.
UCLA Settles 2 Sexual Misconduct Lawsuits against Dr. Heaps for $3.5 Million
LA Times reports that UCLA has settled two prior lawsuits against Dr. Heaps concerning sexual misconduct. In one lawsuit, according to LA Times, a nurse practioner sued Dr. Heaps for sexual harassment and retaliating against her for participating in UCLA’s investigation of his sexual misconduct with patients. UCLA reportedly settled the lawsuit for $1.3 million.
In the second lawsuit, a former patient of Dr. Heaps alleged that Heaps had sexually assaulted her during an examination in 2018. UCLA reportedly settled the lawsuit for $2.25 million. Under the terms of the settlement, UCLA Health President Johnese Spisso is required to meet with the patient, listen to her story, and apologize to her on behalf of the university, according to the Daily Bruin.
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