The University of California system announced Tuesday it will pay nearly $375 million to more than 300 women who said they were sexually assaulted by a UCLA gynecologist, a record total payout by a public university amid a wave of scandals of sexual misconduct by campus doctors.
The settlement followed previous deals with hundreds of other patients who said Dr. James Heaps groped her, made lewd comments, or performed unnecessarily invasive exams throughout his 35-year career.
“DR. Have sexually abused patients in droves for years while UCLA Health prioritizes profits over safety,” attorney Jennifer McGrath said in a statement. “Today’s settlement is a result of the bravery of these victims and sends a message that healthcare organizations recognize vulnerable patients protect and act decisively on complaints of abuse.”
The university has agreed to pay Heap’s patients nearly $700 million, dwarfing a $500 million settlement from Michigan State University in 2018, considered the largest by any public university. The University of Southern California, a private institution, has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle thousands of cases against the school’s longtime gynecologist.
Heaps, 65, who retired in the wake of the scandal, has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of allegedly sexually assaulting seven women.
Women who filed the lawsuits said UCLA ignored their complaints and deliberately concealed abuse that occurred for decades during investigations at the UCLA Student Health Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center or Heaps’ campus office.
UCLA admitted it received a sexual abuse complaint against Heaps from a patient in December 2017 and launched an investigation the following month that concluded she was sexually assaulted and molested, attorneys said.
However, Heaps continued to practice until his retirement in June 2018. The university only released its findings from the investigation in November 2019 — months after Heaps was arrested.
The university previously made comparisons with other patients from Heaps for $316 million. The latest settlement, involving 312 women, resolves the vast majority of claims against Heaps, the university said.
“The behavior allegedly committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to our values,” UCLA said in a statement. “We are grateful to all who have come forward and hope this settlement is a step towards offering some measure of healing to affected plaintiffs.”
The university said it would pay for the settlements through a combination of insurance, venture funding and equity bond proceeds.
Sexual abuse by doctors on college campuses has led to massive settlements at Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University.
Michigan State paid $500 million to 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Larry Nassar, a campus sports physician and USA Gymnastics doctor. Nassar, who also sexually abused Olympic gold-medal gymnasts, is serving prison sentences that will likely keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.
The University of Michigan reached a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 people who said the late Dr. Robert Anderson for having been sexually assaulted during his nearly four-decade career as the school’s sports medicine doctor.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/25/ucla-to-pay-record-of-nearly-700m-in-dr-heaps-abuse-lawsuits/ UCLA Pays Record Nearly $700 Million in Dr. Heap’s Abuse Complaints