The University of California system has agreed on a $73 million settlement for victims who allege that they were sexually abused by Dr. John Heaps, a former obstetrician and gynecologist for the institution.
While seven women initially filed the lawsuit, an additional 6,600 former patients of Heaps came forward throughout the investigation.
They all stand to receive a share of the multi-million dollar settlement pending the federal judge’s approval of the deal.
Heaps still faces criminal charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. He will appear in state court on December 7. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has revealed that while Heaps was charged in 2019 with two counts of sexual battery by fraud and one count of sexual exploitation of patients, he now faces an additional 17 counts related to sexual abuse.
A class action complaint filed on July 30, 2019, details chilling encounters experienced by multiple female patients who have gone unnamed in the document.
According to the complaint, Heaps often had patients unnecessarily remove their clothing during check-ups and used instruments to touch them inappropriately. He was also said to have acted inappropriately and made inappropriate comments.
The Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, reported that the university “knew about Heaps’ wrongdoings for more than a year, yet only broke its silence when he was legally charged and arrested—leaving the campus community in the dark.”
UCLA allowed Heaps to quietly resign in June 2018 without announcing the results of its investigation. It was only after Heaps was arrested that the university issued a statement, expressing how “deeply sorry” it was that the doctor violated “the trust of his patients.”
The university also launched a website dedicated to providing information concerning the ongoing investigation of Heaps, who was deeply involved with the university’s healthcare system for more than 20 years.