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Friday August 23rd, 2019 1:57PM

9 more women file lawsuits against UCLA gynecologist

By The Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nine more women have alleged in two lawsuits they were sexually assaulted by a former gynecologist who worked for the University of California, Los Angeles.

The lawsuits state the women were assaulted by Dr. James Heaps during examinations between 1989 and 2017. The women allege the inappropriate touching sometimes without gloves was not for any legitimate medical purpose and solely for Heaps' sexual gratification.

Heaps has been criminally charged with the sexual battery of two patients but denies any wrongdoing. He has pleaded not guilty.

The most recent lawsuits were filed Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the doctor, the university system's regents and other parties. Three of the nine women were UCLA students at the time of the alleged assaults; the other six were not students and saw Heaps at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

UCLA Health spokeswoman Rhonda Curry said in an email Friday that 117 former patients had reached out to UCLA with "concerns about their interactions" with Heaps. The university is contacting them for follow-up interviews.

Curry said an additional 135 former patients expressed support for the doctor. She declined to comment on the new lawsuits.

One of the women in this week's lawsuits was a 21-year-old UCLA undergraduate student in 1995 when she visited the student health center for a birth control prescription refill. The woman told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday she was confused by Heaps' examination and questions about her sex life. The AP does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The woman, who is now 45 and lives in San Mateo County, said after she heard about Heaps' arrest from a friend that she wanted to tell her story and try to make her two daughters' future experiences better, especially for her older child.

"I want her to be able to say, 'Hey, you know what? My mom, this is how she led her life, this is what's important to her, this is how she raised us,'" she said.

Three other women have filed lawsuits against Heaps since he was arrested last month.

The university has said its investigation into the gynecologist began in December 2017, though officials did not alert the campus community of the allegations until Heaps was in court last month. He retired in 2018 when the university declined to renew his contract. UCLA has promised an independent review of its response.

The Los Angeles Times reported the university's regents finalized a $2.25 million settlement with one of the victims in the criminal case. The university also settled with a nurse practitioner who claimed sexual harassment and retaliation by Heaps for participating in the investigation for nearly $1.3 million.

The state medical board's website shows no records of discipline against Heaps and he has a current license to practice medicine.

The doctor is due back in court on July 30.

Heaps' lawyer could not be immediately reached.

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