UCLA Sexual Abuse Scandal
EKO attorneys, along with co-counsel, jointly filed a class action complaint on behalf of women who were seen for treatment by gynecologist Dr. James Heaps at UCLA Health medical facilities.
The suit, originally filed in 2019, alleged that Heaps abused and assaulted patients while working at UCLA medical facilities. The case was resolved through a class action settlement that is in the final stages of administration. The settlement agreement ensures the implementation of robust procedures for identification, prevention, and reporting of sexual misconduct in the clinical setting. In addition, the settlement creates a $73 million fund for the benefit of Heaps’s former patients and gives each survivor a choice in how to participate.
The $73 million compensates more than 5,500 women who received treatment from Heaps at either the Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center from 1986-2018, the school’s student health center from 1983-2010, or Heaps’s university medical office from 2014-2018. All survivors could seek compensation in a swifter and more private manner than protracted litigation.
In addition to compensation, UCLA has undertaken a series of reforms, including:
Implementing a new investigation model for sexual harassment/sexual assault;
Improved chaperone policies that, among other things, require annual training;
Notice to patients of reporting options;
Training for UCLA medical facilities personnel on provider-patient boundaries and on conducting sensitive examinations;
Enhanced due diligence during the credentialing and recredentialing process and in connection with UCLA Health’s acquisition of a physician or group practice;
Appointment of a compliance monitor to facilitate, oversee and evaluate implementation of these institutional changes.
Dr. Heaps practiced at UCLA Health Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Hospital, and UCLA Medical Group. In June 2019, he was arrested and has been charged with sexual battery and sexual exploitation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Many women have come forward with allegations that Heaps engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct during their exams.