5th Woman Accuses Retired UCLA Gynecologist of Sexual Abuse

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Students walk through the UCLA campus in Westwood. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Students walk through the UCLA campus in Westwood. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

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A fifth woman has accused a retired University of California, Los Angeles gynecologist of sexually abusing her.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, accuses Dr. James Heaps of sexual battery, negligence and civil rights violations.

“We’re reviewing the lawsuit and we find the allegations against Dr. Heaps to be very disturbing,” UCLA Health spokeswoman Rhonda Curry said.

The university had said it was aware of four women, including a one-time UCLA student, who alleged that Heaps sexually abused them.

Heaps, 62, has been criminally charged with two counts of sexual battery by fraud involving two of those women. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

The lawsuit involves a fifth woman who was an 18-year-old student in 2017 when she became one of Heaps’ patients. The doctor had an office on the UCLA campus and worked as an employee for UCLA Health.

During a routine ultrasound and pelvic exam, Heaps sexually touched her genitals, made “grossly inappropriate and humiliating comments” and asked “embarrassing, non-medical questions about her personal life and sex life,” the suit contends.

The woman’s lawyer, Jennifer McGrath, said Heaps allegedly made “commentary about her intimate body parts” with “no possible medical necessity.”

The woman is “haunted by memories and flashbacks of an assault and harassment by Dr. Heaps,” the lawsuit adds.

McGrath represents the two women in the criminal case and filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of one of the women earlier this week.

Heaps’ attorney, Tracy Green, denied the allegations and said the new lawsuit “exaggerated, misconstrued the whole purpose of the exam.”

“Dr. Heaps treated patients professionally,” she said. “He did not do exams for sexual gratification or some bizarre need … He’s got an oncology frame and that’s how he views the world and patients.”

The lawsuit also names University of California regents, contending UCLA failed to provide basic protections for patients and allowed Heaps to continue to practice even though he was undergoing a California Medical Board investigation and at least one other person had made sexual abuse allegations against him.

The medical board’s website shows no records of discipline against Heaps and he has a current license to practice medicine.

UCLA has pledged an independent review of its response and has encouraged potential victims to contact a third-party company with any complaints.

University of California President Janet Napolitano said in a statement Wednesday that she has convened a group to review policies and procedures “related to inappropriate sexual behavior in our medical centers and student health centers.”

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