UCLA settles gynecologist abuse lawsuit for over $100 million

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The University of California has agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle allegations that several hundred women were sexually abused by a former UCLA gynecologist, attorneys have said.

The settlement was announced on Monday by some of the lawyers representing 203 women who said they had been groped or otherwise abused by Dr James Heaps during a 35-year career. Details have not been released.

The lawsuit said the university ignored decades of complaints and deliberately covered up abuse.

A message seeking comment from UCLA Health was not immediately returned Monday.

The University of California, Los Angeles began investigating Heaps in 2017 and he retired the following year after the school refused to renew his contract. Heaps was also criminally charged last year with 21 counts of sex offenses involving seven women. He pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit was one of hundreds filed that allege abuse by Heaps. UCLA settled a similar lawsuit last year for $73 million.

In this case, more than 100 women said that between 1983 and 2018, Heaps groped women, faked sex with an ultrasound probe, or made inappropriate comments during exams at the student health center. UCLA, at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center or at his office on campus.

As part of the class action settlement, some 6,600 former patients were to receive between $2,500 and $250,000, with the higher amounts implying the extent of bodily injury and emotional distress, as decided by a panel of experts.

UCLA has not admitted any wrongdoing in reaching this settlement, but has agreed to modify its procedures for preventing, identifying, investigating and addressing sexual misconduct.

The latest lawsuit settlement follows similar massive payouts by universities over allegations that doctors abused thousands of patients.

Last month, the University of Michigan announced a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 people who say they were sexually assaulted by sports physician Dr. Robert Anderson during his nearly four-year career. decades in school. He died in 2008.

Last March, UCLA’s long distance rival, the University of Southern California, agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who accused its longtime gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, of sexual abuse. The university reached a $215 million settlement in a separate lawsuit.

Tyndall, who worked at the school for nearly 30 years, has pleaded not guilty to dozens of criminal charges of sexual misconduct.

USC’s regulations greatly exceeded those announced in 2018 by Michigan State University. The $500 million settlement — considered the largest of its kind at the time — settled the claims of more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Larry Nassar, who was a sports physician on campus and doctor for USA Gymnastics.

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