A class-action suit filed against the University of California has led to a $73 million settlement agreement with the seven women who filed the suit alleging multiple acts of sexual abuse at the hands of a university gynecologist. Additionally, the settlement makes compensation available to upward of 6,600 additional women seen by the doctor during his time practicing. Under the terms of the settlement, the patients will not have had to accuse him of any wrongdoing in order to collect.
James Heaps has been accused of committing multiple acts of sexual abuse and misconduct between 1983 and 2018. According to U.S. News and World Report, accusations against him include “making sexually inappropriate comments to patients, touching women sexually during exams without wearing gloves and simulating intercourse, often roughly, with an ultrasound probe.”
The 63-year-old had been under investigation by UCLA since December of 2017, although the fact that a university gynecologist may have been sexually assaulting his patients was not made public until last year. Heaps was eventually placed under arrest in June of 2019. Shortly after the arrest was made public the university was contacted by more than 200 women alleging similar experiences with him while under his care.
Under the terms of the agreement, Heaps has no requirement to admit to any sort of wrongdoing, nor will he personally be held responsible for any of the $73 million of university funds that will be paid to settle the matter, in addition to attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred during the litigation. Payout to patients will start at $2,500, although the terms of the settlement make amounts of $250,000 or more available in some cases. A panel will be convened to examine each claim separately before determining a payment amount.