UCLA To Pay $244M To Settle Gynecologist Sexual Abused Claims Presented By Hundreds of Women

Thousands of women agreed to a previous class action settlement, but hundreds more women decided to pursue individual sexual abuse claims over gynecologist at UCLA.

The University of California system has agreed to pay $243.6 million to settle sexual abuse claims presented by more than 200 women, who were assaulted by a former University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) obstetrician-gynecologist.

James Heaps, who worked as a gynecologist at the University from 1983 until 2014, was arrested in 2018, and charged with sexual battery involving two former patients. After he was arrested, hundreds of women came forward, saying they had also been sexually abused by the doctor, and claiming the University did little or nothing to stop the abuse.

Heaps is currently awaiting trial on the original criminal charges.

UCLA had already reached a $73 million settlement agreement in November 2020, which resolved a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of thousands of Heaps patients. However, about 600 women refused to participate in the class action and sought individual sexual abuse settlements with the University. This latest agreement resolves more than 200 of those claims and will award each plaintiff about $1.2 million.

The allegations claim Heaps committed the acts of abuse during medical examinations over the course of two decades, inappropriately touching female patients during vaginal and breast exams, and making inappropriately sexual comments to patients and staff members.

Heaps currently faces 21 felony sexual abuse counts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The settlement agreement means UCLA joins a growing list of major universities which have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to former students who were abused for years by gynecologists and coaches.

Last year, the University of Southern California (USC) paid more than $1 billion to settle sexual abuse allegations by former gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall, who abused female USC students for decades. Last month, the University of Michigan agreed to pay $490 million to settle sexual abuse claims by a deceased former sports doctor.

However, probably the highest profile case involved former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, with testimony presented by more than 150 women and girls molested as young gymnasts during medical examinations since at least the early 1990s, while Nassar served a team physician and assistant professor at MSU, and as a USA Gymnastics Medical Coordinator.

In 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle lawsuits filed by women who say they were abused by Nassar, and late last year USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee added another $380 million to settlement agreements involving women abused by Nassar.


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