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UCLA Gynecologist Accused of Sexually Abusing Patients

A former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who surrendered to police on Monday, has been accused of sexual abuse by multiple patients, the university announced in a statement.

Dr. James Heaps, who worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the university for nearly 30 years and retired in 2018 amid an internal investigation, appeared before a Los Angeles court, where he plead not guilty to two counts of sexual battery by fraud and one count of sexual exploitation.

The charges stem out of complaints filed by two patients who experienced sexual abuse in 2017 and 2018 at UCLA Health.

The university issued a statement saying that it reported Heaps to the Medical Board of California and law enforcement and conducted an investigation into the misconduct complaints in 2018. Heaps was later removed from clinical practice, and a process to terminate his services was initiated, after which he voluntarily announced his retirement.

“Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable and represents an inexcusable breach of the physician-patient relationship,” chancellor Gene D. Block said. “We are deeply sorry that a former UCLA physician violated our policies and standards, our trust and the trust of his patients.”

The university has hired Praesidium to provide and connect patients with support services, and has urged others to report complaints or concerns about Dr. Heaps.

“We are committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure their wellbeing and maintaining the confidence and trust of the broader UCLA community,” the school release reads.

Last year, similar allegations were leveled by more than 300 former students against gynecologist George Tyndall and men’s sexual health doctor Dennis Kelly of the University of Southern California.

The university faced sharp criticism for ignoring the reports of abuse by Tyndall. Since then, numerous lawsuits have accused the school of allowing Tyndall to resign quietly with a financial settlement last June after an internal probe found him guilty of inappropriately touching the genitals of the patient.

Earlier this month, a former health center staffer also sued Lehigh University for dismissing her from her job after she reported Dr. Thomas Novak’s sexually inappropriate behavior to school officials.

The suit alleged Novak of making inappropriate comments about her body, sexually harassing other staff members, conducting unnecessary breast exams on female students and touching pelvic areas without wearing gloves.

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