Tuesday, May 25, 2021

UCLA in the News (in a bad way)

From MyNewsLAAn obstetrician-gynecologist formerly employed by UCLA was taken into custody Monday in a Los Angeles courtroom on a 21-count indictment accusing him of sexually assaulting patients. The indictment was handed down by a grand jury last Thursday and announced on the day a preliminary hearing for Dr. James Mason Heaps was scheduled to begin. Heaps, 64, of Woodland Hills, who had been free on bond, was taken into custody on bail of $1.19 million, according to attorneys who represent hundreds of victims in a civil case against Heaps and UCLA.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for June 3, and the case was moved to a downtown courtroom, a spokeswoman for the courts confirmed. Heaps had been facing a total of 20 felony counts in a criminal complaint charging him with sexually assaulting seven patients between 2011 and 2018. The indictment now allows for a maximum sentence of more than 91 years, according to the attorneys handling civil cases against the doctor, although the District Attorney’s Office did not immediately confirm that calculation or the details of the grand jury’s findings...

In 2019, the UC Board of Regents paid $2.25 million to a woman who alleged that Heaps sexually assaulted her while he was practicing at UCLA and another $1.3 million to a UCLA nurse-practitioner who alleged sexual harassment and retaliation for her participation in UCLA internal investigations of Heaps. In January, a federal judge gave preliminary approval of a civil, class-action settlement in which the University of California system agreed to pay $73 million to more than 5,500 women who were patients of Heaps.

The agreement requires the judge’s final approval July 12, but at least 300 of Heaps’ alleged victims have opted out of the settlement, which also requires UCLA to ensure stronger oversight procedures for identification, prevention and reporting of sexual misconduct. The entirety of the $73 million would go toward compensating more than 5,500 women who received treatment from Heaps at either the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1986-2018, the school’s student health center from 1983-2010 or Heaps’ university medical office from 2014-18...

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