LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The University of California, Los Angeles has reached a settlement with a doctor accused of assault, abuse, and harassment of women while working at the university’s medical facilities.
UCLA and Dr. James Heaps, who was working as a gynecologist at the school, agreed to $73 million to settle the 2019 class action claims brought by several women.
“The trauma that I have been carrying for far too long is one that thousands of other women around the country also share,” said a former patient of Heaps. “I am relieved that we have reached a resolution that provides a way for other women to come forward in a confidential manner.”
The agreement requires UCLA to have stricter oversight procedures for identifying, preventing and reporting sexual abuse and harassment complaints.
UCLA, which was accused of failing to protect Heaps’ patients after their complaints were issued, is required under the agreement to ensure stricter oversight procedures for identifying, preventing and reporting sexual abuse and harassment complaints.
The entirety of the $73 million from the settlement will compensate the 5,500 women who were treated by Heaps between 1983 and 2018 at UCLA’s student health center or Heaps’ university medical office.
UCLA said the sexual harassment complaints are counter to their values and they “thank the individuals who came forward and hope that this settlement … is one small step forward for the patients involved.”
Actions recommended in an “independent review, conducted by a special committee” that was completed earlier this year into the complaints and how UCLA responded to the allegations have already been taken, according to the university.
“UCLA is committed to policies and procedures to protect patients,” UCLA said.
A judge still has to approve the agreement between UCLA and Heaps.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)