THE ANGELS – A former University of California, Los Angeles gynecologist was found guilty Thursday of five counts of sexual abuse of female patients, in a criminal case that came after the university system won nearly $700 million in lawsuit settlements.
The Los Angeles jury found Dr. James Heaps, a longtime UCLA campus gynecologist, not guilty on seven of the 21 counts and deadlocked on the remaining counts.
In the wake of the scandal that erupted in 2019 following the doctor’s arrest, UCLA agreed to pay nearly $700 million in court settlements to hundreds of Heaps patients, a record amount for a public university amid a wave of sexual misconduct scandals involving part of the campus physicians in recent years.
Heaps, 65, has pleaded not guilty to 21 felony charges in the sexual assaults of seven women between 2009 and 2018. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Heaps was indicted last year on multiple counts, each of sexual assault by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation.
The jury returned a guilty verdict on three counts of sexual assault by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person. He was found not guilty on seven other counts of sexual assault and penetration, as well as one count of sexual exploitation. The jury hung on the remaining nine counts, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial on those counts.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 17.
The district attorney’s office said it has not decided whether prosecutors will retry the dangling charges.
“The trauma that Dr. Heaps inflicted on the very people he was sworn to care for is immeasurable.” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “While we respect the jury’s decisions on the charges acquitted, we are obviously disappointed.”
Heaps’ attorney did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
“The horrific abuse he perpetrated against cancer patients and others who trusted him as their physician has been exposed and justice served,” said attorney John Manly, who represented more than 200 women in civil cases against Heaps and UCLA, in a statement after death. verdict.
Sexual abuse by doctors on college campuses has led to mass settlements at The Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University.
UCLA’s payments exceed a $500 million Michigan State University settlement in 2018 that was considered the largest by a public university. The University of Southern California, a private institution, has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle thousands of cases against the school’s longtime gynecologist, who is still facing criminal trial in Los Angeles.
UCLA patients said Heaps groped them, made suggestive comments or performed unnecessarily invasive tests during his 35-year career. The women who filed the lawsuits said the university ignored their complaints and deliberately covered up abuse that occurred for decades during exams at UCLA’s student health center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center or at the campus office of UCLA. Heaps.
UCLA acknowledged that it received a sexual abuse complaint against Heaps from a patient in December 2017 and opened an investigation the following month that concluded she was sexually assaulted and harassed, attorneys said.
However, Heaps continued to practice until his retirement in June 2018. The university did not release its findings in the investigation until November 2019, months after Heaps was arrested.
“UCLA Health is grateful for the patients who came forward,” the university said in a statement after the verdict. “Sexual misconduct of any kind is reprehensible and intolerable. Our top priority is to provide the highest quality care and ensure that patients feel safe, secure and respected.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.