Ex-UCLA gynecologist James Heaps indicted on 21 sex abuse counts

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FILE – In this Wednesday, June 26, 2019 file photo UCLA gynecologist James Heaps appears in Los Angeles Superior Court. 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 say the women were groped, fondled and penetrated digitally by Dr. James Heaps during examinations between 1989 and 2017. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool,File)/Los Angeles Times via AP)

(CBS NEWS) — A grand jury indicted a former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles on 21 counts of sexual abuse offenses Monday in a case in which he’s accused of sexually assaulting seven women, court documents say.

Dr. James Heaps, 64, faces multiple counts each of sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation, according to a copy of the indictment unsealed Monday.

The indictment includes offenses that allegedly took place between 2009 and 2018. No new victims were listed in the court documents. He had previously faced 20 counts.

Heaps, who was free on bond, was taken into custody Monday on $1.19 million bail after the indictment was unsealed, CBS Los Angeles reported. He was arrested in June 2019; his medical license has been suspended by court order as that case moves forward.

According to CBA L.A., a grand jury handed down the latest indictment last Thursday, but it was announced on the day a preliminary hearing for Heaps was scheduled to begin.

At least three women were ready to testify against Heaps Monday, attorneys said, but the indictment eliminated the need for a preliminary hearing to assess evidence in advance of the trial.

Heaps has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

“Dr. Heaps is confident he will be exonerated at trial,” Leonard Levine, his attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. He said his client plans to post bail.

Scores of patients have accused Heaps of sexual assault and sexual misconduct between 1983 and 2018, when he worked at the UCLA student health center and UCLA Medical Center. Accusations include making sexually inappropriate comments to patients, touching women sexually during exams without wearing gloves and simulating intercourse, often roughly, with an ultrasound probe.

The University of California system in November agreed to a $73 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit, under which more than 6,600 patients of Heaps could receive a payout, even if they haven’t accused him of abuse.

More than 100 of Heaps’ former patients have filed individual lawsuits.

CBS L.A. cited attorneys handling the civil cases against Heaps as saying the latest indictment allows for a maximum sentence of 91 years, though the District Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately confirm that calculation or the grand jury’s findings.

Attorneys Darren Kavinoky and Jennifer McGrath said in a statement that they believe this indictment strengthens their clients’ claims against Heaps and UCLA., CBS L.A. reported.

“This decision is one step closer to lifting the veil on UCLA’s malfeasance, and that UCLA did nothing to protect patients after knowing and concluding that Dr. Heaps was a predator,” the statement alleges.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a measure allowing a one-year window – all of 2021 – for victims to file legal claims against Heaps and UCLA that could otherwise have been too late under an existing statute of limitations.

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