WESTWOOD (CBSLA) — An alleged victim of a sexual abuse scandal at UCLA Health is speaking out for the first time, claiming she was also subjected to retaliation by her employer.
The claims are the subject of a new lawsuit filed by 30 women, including Gabby Vasquez, known as Jane Doe Number 16 in the case against UCLA and gynecologist James Heaps.
The plaintiffs allege battery, sexual battery and sexual assault occurred during routine gynecological examinations. Dr. Heaps, who is no longer employed by UCLA, faces three criminal counts of sexual battery involving two women.
Vasquez, during a press conference on Tuesday, talked about the alleged mistreatment she is receiving at the UCLA Medical Center, where she still works.
“UCLA could have stopped this if it had listened to me. Instead, I was harassed — threatened for reporting Dr. Heaps. I was told to be quiet,” she said.
The lawsuit names Vasquez’s supervisor, Hilda Oliva, whom Vasquez claims instructed her not to say anything about the lawsuit.
“I am here to tell every woman to honor her instincts about intimate examinations,” Vasquez said.
In reference to Dr. Heaps, she continued: “UCLA protected him and harassed me. Standing here today is the hardest thing I have ever done.”
The defendant has maintained his innocence and issued a denial through his lawyer, reading: “Dr. Heaps never touched or examined her in any way for anything but medical reasons. The claim that he conducted the exam for his own personal gratification is an outrageously false claim. Dr. Heaps refuses to be the victim of what he believes to be a money grab from him and UCLA Regents.”
Asked why Vasquez continued to work at UCLA through the litigation, her attorney, Darren Kavinoky, said his client was “doing her best to try to maintain her gainful employment.”
UCLA issued a statement shortly after Vasquez’s remarks, reading: “An independent review examining UCLA’s response to sexual misconduct in clinical settings was begun in March. Based on the findings of the review, UCLA will identify and implement necessary changes across all clinical sites. The process will be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, fairness and devotion to our patients.”
Dr. Heaps, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to appear in court Friday.