The University of California, Los Angeles is facing a class-action lawsuit for mishandling complaints of sexual abuse and harassment against its former gynecologist.
On Tuesday, two women filed the suit for sexual misconduct against Dr. James Heaps who worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the university for nearly 30 years, according to CBS News.
The suit, filed against the university system’s regents and other unnamed defendants in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, alleges school of showing negligence towards the complaints of victims and not forwarding complaints to the Title IX office for proper investigation.
Heaps retired in 2018 after appearing before a Los Angeles court, where he plead not guilty to two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual exploitation.
“We know that because there were complaints as early as 2014, the school did not respond appropriately even according to its own policies,” said Elizabeth Kramer, a lead attorney on the case.
The university has maintained 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.
The university has hired Praesidium to provide and connect patients with support services and has urged others to report complaints or concerns about Heaps.
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.
@GirardSharp and @GibbsLawGroup have jointly filed a class action complaint against #UCLA on behalf of women who were treated by Dr. James Heaps, who has been charged with sexual misconduct while working as a staff gynecologist at UCLA—a position he held for almost thirty years.
— Girard Sharp LLP (@GirardSharp) July 30, 2019
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.
The latest suit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and changes to the sexual misconduct policies of the university.
Last month, the Los Angeles Superior Court had suspended the medical license of Heaps until the criminal sexual assault case pending against him is cleared.
Heaps is currently facing more than 10 civil suits. According to public records obtained by the Daily Bruin, the university has paid nearly $3.5 million in settlements regarding allegations against Heaps.