Ex-UCLA Gynecologist Indicted on 21 Sexual Abuse Counts

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Ex-UCLA Gynecologist Indicted on 21 Sexual Abuse Counts

Ex-UCLA Gynecologist Indicted on 21 Sexual Abuse Counts

May 25, 2021

Former University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) gynecologist, Dr. James Heaps, was indicted on 21 counts of various sexual abuse offenses Monday. The grand jury indictment unsealing brought additional charges against Heaps, who now faces a total of 21 felony counts and a maximum prison sentence of over 90 years if convicted of all offenses. The former UCLA doctor is charged with sexually abusing seven female patients.

Heaps was remanded into custody on $1.19 million bail following the indictment’s unsealing. The Los Angeles Times reported that Leonard Levine, Heaps’ attorney, said, “Dr. Heaps is confident he will be exonerated at trial.” Levine also indicated his client will post bail.

Heaps, 64, is charged with multiple counts each of sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation. The indictment includes sexual abuse offenses that allegedly took place between 2009 and 2018. Although additional charges were included in Monday’s indictment, no new victims were listed in court documents.

According to the Los Angeles Times, since Heaps was arrested in 2019, over 300 women have come forward alleging the former doctor “subjected them to sexually inappropriate comments, touched them sexually during exams without wearing gloves and simulated intercourse with an ultrasound probe.”

A UCLA Health website (www.uclahealth.org/heaps), seemingly created to answer questions related to the myriad allegations against Heaps, states the following:

“Health and well-being is our mission, starting with safety. At UCLA Health we are advancing our organization’s policies and practices to prevent and take action against sexual misconduct. That starts with maintaining open dialogue with our patients.”

The website indicates that Heaps was officially employed as an obstetrician-gynecologist at UCLA Health from February 2014 to June 2018. However, the website further clarifies that Heaps has actually been affiliated with the university’s health program since 1990.

The site notes that from 1990 to January 31, 2014, though Dr. Heaps’ private practice was independent from UCLA Health, he still maintained privileges at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Furthermore, from 1989 until 2018, Heaps served on the UCLA Medical School faculty. UCLA confirms that Heaps treated approximately 5,000 patients that can be accounted for with university records, and about 1,600 others for whom no records exist.

Contact our top-rated team of expert sexual abuse attorneys online or by phone today to pursue justice and secure a financial award for damages.

UCLA Health’s website also notes that the university is “deeply sorry that a former member of our staff violated our policies and standards, our trust, and the trust of his patients.

In terms of steps the university is taking to prevent further sexual abuse, the website states that an independent review of the institution’s response to sexual misconduct in clinical settings was initiated in March 2019. The review appears to be ongoing, however, with the university’s website stating that once the findings are completed, “we will identify and implement necessary changes across all of UCLA’s clinical sites. Our process will be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, fairness and devotion to our patients.

The site also provides an online submission form where survivors of Dr. James Heaps’ alleged sexual abuse can report a claim.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the University of California (UC) system has publicly acknowledged that staff members received sexual misconduct claims about Heaps as far back as the 1990s. Moreover, the Times confirmed that despite a “detailed report in 2017” which initiated investigations, it took a year for Heaps to leave in 2018, but only after the university declined to renew his contract.

The timeline of the allegations, investigations, and arrest of Dr. James Heaps is as follows:

  • On June 14, 2018, UCLA notified law enforcement of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against Heaps
  • In June 2019, Heaps was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual battery against two patients
  • In August 2020, prosecutors charged Heaps with sexually abusing five additional patients

In November 2020, the UC system reached a proposed $73 million settlement naming the seven women who accused Dr. Heaps of sexual abuse as plaintiffs. A federal judge approved the class-action lawsuit in January, with more than 6,600 former patients of Heaps reportedly eligible to receive a portion of the settlement as a damages award.

But as UCLA’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, reported in March, hundreds of survivors who were allegedly abused by Dr. Heaps are opting out of the $73 million settlement, instead choosing to pursue private legal action against the former gynecologist.

Under the class-action settlement, survivors of Heaps’ alleged abuse would be compensated between $2,500 and $250,000. However, as the Daily Bruin reported earlier this year, given that the number of former patients within the plaintiff pool is over 6,000, the likelihood of receiving a damages award totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars is quite slim. The student paper estimated the average damages award for a victim of Heaps’ alleged abuse to be $11,000.

Accordingly, many survivors are pursuing legal options on their own terms. Those class members who opted out of the $73 million settlement are free to file their own civil lawsuits against Heaps and UCLA Health.

How Can Survivors of Dr. James Heaps File a Claim?

Although the new criminal charges against former doctor, James Heaps, could lead to additional prison time should he be convicted, survivors of Heaps’ alleged abuse deserve to be financially compensated.

Following the $73 million settlement being announced last year, Governor Gavin Newsom approved a measure allowing a one-year window for victims to file legal claims against Heaps and UCLA. That window – all of 2021 – allows survivors who would have otherwise been barred from filing a claim due to the existing statute of limitations to finally have their chance at justice. Provided the claim is filed before the end of 2021, survivors are eligible to proceed with a civil lawsuit against Dr. Heaps and UCLA Health, regardless of how long ago the sexual abuse occurred. However, given the number of potential claims, it is recommended that survivors file their individual lawsuit as soon as possible.

If you were sexually abused by Dr. James Heaps, filing a civil lawsuit in pursuit of a financial damages award can be the best means of obtaining justice on your own terms. Civil lawsuits are entirely separate from criminal suits, and the outcome of Heaps’ criminal trial will not have an impact on any of the civil claims.

By filing a civil lawsuit against Dr. James Heaps and UCLA Health, survivors could potentially recover financial compensation for damages such as emotional trauma, reduced quality of life, psychological injury (such as post-traumatic stress disorder/PTSD), and more.

To file a claim, contact us online to arrange a free consultation, or call 818-322-4056 to speak with one of our dedicated team members.

Our experienced attorneys can help you pursue a financial award for your personal injury case. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation today.

What Makes Dordulian Law Group the Best Sexual Assault Firm in California?

Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) Sex Crimes Division features a unique and all-encompassing type of legal representation that addresses the various needs survivors may face throughout the legal process. DLG’s founder, Sam Dordulian, formerly served as a sex crimes prosecutor in the position of Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County.

As a sex crimes prosecutor, Dordulian saw first-hand that survivors of sexual abuse often need more than just expert legal representation when facing a difficult trial. Accordingly, when Dordulian founded DLG he established the Sex Crimes Division’s SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) to provide survivor clients with four tiers of 24/7 support.
In addition to the expert legal representation Dordulian provides – including a record of over 100 jury trial victories – DLG’s survivor clients have access to unique resources that can’t be found at other firms.

DLG’s SAJE Team features:

  • An in-house licensed clinical therapist with over 15 years of experience addressing the complex needs of sexual abuse survivors
  • Two licensed and nationally accredited victim advocates who have dedicated their lives to helping survivors of sexual abuse, and are available as a 24/7 support network
  • A retired LAPD detective who previously served in the department’s elite Abused Child Unit for sex crimes and investigates all DLG sex crime cases

Together, the DLG SAJE Team provides survivors of sexual abuse with unique resources and added advantages that can be invaluable when navigating the legal process.

With a 98% success rate and over $100,000,000 recovered for our clients in settlements and verdicts, DLG is the best choice for survivors of sexual abuse.

To learn more about the resources, support, and expert legal representation DLG provides to each and every survivor of sexual abuse, contact us online or call 818-322-4056.

Whether you’re ready to file a claim or simply need to speak with a member of our SAJE Team, we’re here for you – to listen, to provide support, and to help you secure the justice you deserve.

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