Ex-UCLA gynecologist James Heaps, 65, GUILTY of sex abuse, after string of attacks, including sex with unconscious female patient, faces up to 21 years in jail – College already paid out $700m to victims
Los Angeles jury Thursday found former UCLA campus doctor James Heaps guilty of five sex-related counts, while acquitting him on seven
Ex-UCLA gynecologist Heaps, 65, was facing trial on 21-sex-related counts involving seven patients, included having sex with unconscious female patient
Included in the charges was sexual battery by fraud penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation, along with sexual exploitation of a patient
Mistrial declared for the remaining nine counts after Jury could not reach verdicts those items
Disgraced doctor was ordered into custody, his defense attorney argued unsuccessfully that he should remain free on bail
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov 17, when he could be facing up to 21 years in state prison
Crimes happened while Heaps was employed by UCLA and the college has paid already $700M restitution to victims
A Los Angeles County jury on Thursday found former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps guilty of sexually abusing female patients during his tenure at the university.
Dr. Heaps, 65, had been charged with 21 felony counts, but was found guilty of only five: three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
The assaults date from 2013 to 2017, the portion of his tenure that falls within the statute of limitations for which criminal charges could be brought.
Heaps pled not guilty to 21 felony counts in the sexual assaults of seven women between 2009 and 2018. He has denied wrongdoing.
The disgraced doctor was found not guilty of seven other counts, including one count of sexual exploitation.
Judge Michael D. Carter declared a mistrial on nine other sex-related counts, saying the jury was hopelessly deadlocked on them.
“Instead of upholding the Hippocratic oath, [Heaps] used his position as a doctor, as a specialist, to sexually assault … incredibly vulnerable women,” Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Danette Meyers said during the trial, which began August 9.
The criminal suit against the former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles came after the university system made nearly $700 million in lawsuit payouts.
The Los Angeles jury found Dr. James Heaps, a longtime UCLA campus gynecologist, not guilty on seven of the 21 counts and were deadlocked on the remaining charges.
The sex attacker was removed from court in handcuffs after receiving the verdict.
He will be sentenced on November 17 with a prosecutor saying the guilty verdicts could lead to up to 21 years in state prison.
In the wake of the scandal that erupted in 2019 following the doctor’s arrest, UCLA agreed to pay nearly $700 million in lawsuit settlements to hundreds of Heaps´ patients – a record amount by a public university amid a wave of sexual misconduct scandals by campus doctors in recent years.
Heaps was indicted last year on multiple counts each of sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation.
The jury delivered a guilty verdict on three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
He was found not guilty of seven other counts of sexual battery and penetration, as well as one count of sexual exploitation. The jury was hung on the nine remaining counts, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial for those charges.
It was not immediately clear whether the district attorney’s office plans to refile the case on the deadlocked counts.
Heaps´ attorney and the district attorney’s office did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday.
The crimes happened while Heaps worked as a gynecologist at UCLA.
Sex abuse by doctors on college campuses has led to massive settlements at Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University.
UCLA’s payouts exceed a $500 million settlement by Michigan State University 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 still faces a criminal trial in Los Angeles.
UCLA patients said Heaps groped them, made suggestive comments or conducted unnecessarily invasive exams during his 35-year career.
Women who brought the lawsuits said the university ignored their complaints and deliberately concealed abuse that happened for decades during examinations at the UCLA student health center, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center or in Heaps´ campus office.
After the verdicts were declared, Heaps was ordered into custody and led out of the courtroom with his hands in cuffs.
Heaps was taken back to his cell. Sentencing is set for November 17 with a prosecutor saying the guilty verdicts could lead to up to 21 years in state prison.
His former employer UCLA acknowledged it received a sex abuse complaint against Heaps from a patient in December 2017 and it launched an investigation the following month that concluded she was sexually assaulted and harassed, attorneys said.
In the end UCLA called the doctor’s conduct “reprehensible” following a $374.4-million settlement covering 312 former patients. However, Heaps who treated about 6,000 patients during his tenure, continued to practice until his retirement in June 2018. The university did not release its finding in the investigation until November 2019 – months after Heaps was arrested.
Furthermore, a state investigation revealed that UCLA ignored multiple detailed complaints of abuse spanning decades against the doctor. A separate University of California report found that UCLA repeatedly failed to adequately investigate the allegations. UCLA allowed Heaps to return to practice in 2018 to find new victims, multiple lawsuits alleged, even though top university officials knew of an ongoing internal investigation into the allegations.
After the verdict the college issued a statement: ‘UCLA Health is grateful for the patients who came forward,’ the university said in a statement
‘Sexual misconduct of any kind is reprehensible and intolerable. Our overriding priority is providing the highest quality care while ensuring that patients feel safe, protected and respected.’
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