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Criminal Justice

University of California To Pay Another $374 Million To Women Who Accused UCLA Gynecologist Of Sex Abuse

A large brick building at UCLA. A student with a backpack walks nearby, as does another young woman in a dress.
A student walks toward Royce Hall on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles on March 11, 2020.
(Robyn Beck
AFP via Getty Images)
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The University of California has agreed to pay out another $374 million to alleged victims of former UCLA gynecologist and oncologist James Heaps. That brings the total for the thousands of plaintiffs to nearly $700 million.

Heaps is accused of sexual misconduct with former patients that took place for nearly 35 years. He’s facing felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting seven women. Heaps has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Plaintiffs allege UCLA ignored complaints against Heaps for years. The university ended his contract and notified law enforcement about the allegations against him in 2018.

The first set of charges filed against Heaps came about a year later. More accusers came forward following his arrest in 2019, and additional charges were filed the following year.

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It’s the largest sexual abuse-related settlement reached by a public university.

Hundreds of former Heaps patients are represented in this latest settlement by attorney Darren Kavinoky. For some of his clients, Kavinoky said, it’s “too little, too late.”

“We’re left to wonder, why did it take so long? One of our clients passed away from terminal cancer during the pendency in this case,” Kavinoky said. “The settlement, frankly, could have been and should have been reached at a much earlier stage.”

In a statement, UCLA said that Heaps' alleged misconduct is “reprehensible and contrary to the university’s value’s” and that it “hopes this settlement is one step toward providing some level of healing for the plaintiffs involved.”

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