US university settles former gynaecologist's sex abuse suit for US$243.6 million

09 Feb 2022 09:39am
Royce Hall on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California - AFP
Royce Hall on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California - AFP

LOS ANGELES - The University of California (UC) system has settled a lawsuit by reaching an agreement with more than 200 women who alleged they had been sexually abused by a former UC Los Angeles (UCLA) gynaecologist, and agreed to pay the victims US$243.6 million, reported Xinhua.

However, this settlement reported Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times does not mean the UC system has concluded all the lawsuits involving James Heaps who worked in UCLA from 1983 to 2018.

The huge compensation doesn't cover more than 300 patients who are continuing to sue, and Heaps is facing criminal charges.

The UC system was accused of acknowledging complaints against Heaps dating back to the 1990s but taking no action even when it took a detailed report in 2017 and initiated investigations.

UCLA only declined to renew his contract in 2018 and notified law enforcement of the allegations the same year.

In June 2019, Heaps was arrested, and hundreds of women came forward to allege that he subjected them to sexually inappropriate comments and groped them sexually during exams.

Heaps currently faces 21 felony counts, including sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person involving several female patients, and could be sentenced to more than 67 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

He has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer has said that Heaps maintains he acted in an appropriate manner.

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In a statement announcing the settlement, UCLA denounced the doctor, saying that the conduct alleged to have been committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to the university's values. - BERNAMA

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