More than 5,500 women were included in a class-action suit against former U.C.L.A. gynecologist Dr. James Heaps, who has been charged with 20 felony counts of sexual assault. The University of California system has agreed to pay $73 million to these women who were patients of the doctor.
The suit was initiated by seven women who claim that they were sexually abused by the medical professional during examinations. Dr. James Heaps was initially charged in 2019 and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Dr. Heaps was employed at the student health center at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1983 to 2010. He then went on to work at U.C.L.A. Health from 2014 to 2018.
“The settlement, if approved, will provide real and immediate compensation to thousands of women — no less than $2,500 and up to $250,000, or more in extraordinary circumstances,” wrote Elizabeth A. Kramer, a lawyer for one of the women who filed the lawsuit. “In a case involving widespread sexual misconduct, a class settlement compensates survivors who otherwise would not have come forward to seek relief from the courts, through a respectful and confidential process.”
“The incidents described in the lawsuit reflect alleged conduct that is contrary to our values,” U.C.L.A. Health shared in a public statement. “We thank the individuals who came forward and hope that this settlement — which is still subject to court approval — is one small step forward for the patients involved.”
Here’s hoping the women affected by Dr. Heaps continue to feel empowered to come forward and seek justice.