LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A former longtime UCLA gynecologist appeared in court Wednesday as yet another former female patient stepped forward to publicly accuse the doctor of sexual misconduct.
Dr. James Heaps, 62, appeared in Los Angeles Airport Court to set the date for his preliminary hearing on two counts of sexual battery with fraud and one count of sexual exploitation of a patient.
Heaps retired from UCLA Health in 2018 following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and billing irregularities. On June 10, Heaps was arrested on charges of sexual battery against two women he treated at UCLA in 2017 and 2018.
Heaps worked at UCLA Health for nearly 30 years. According to the L.A. Times, the UC Board of Regents paid $2.25 million to a patient who claimed that Heaps sexually assaulted her during an appointment in early 2018. In March, UCLA paid $1.3 million to a nurse practitioner to settle a complaint that Heaps had sexually harassed her and retaliated against her for taking part in the sexual misconduct investigation against him, the Times reports.
The latest lawsuit against both Heaps and UCLA Health was brought by a woman who identified herself only as Julie, and sat a few rows behind Heaps during his hearing Wednesday.
She claims that, beginning in 2015, Heaps repeatedly sexually abused her during pelvic and breast exams while she was a patient of his.
“I’m here to redeem my self-esteem and go on with my life and try and get past him,” she told reporters outside the courtroom. “Seeing him did make my heart race and brought memories back that I would rather not remember.”
Heaps has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A preliminary hearing date was set for Dec. 6. He remains free on bail.
Earlier this year, the University of Southern California agreed to pay $215 million to settle a class action lawsuit against one of its former doctors, Dr. George Tyndall, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of student patients.