A former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, student health center has been charged with sexually abusing patients, the school and prosecutors said Monday.
The charges against Dr. James Heaps, who worked at the center for nearly 30 years, involved conduct with two patients in 2017 and 2018, UCLA said in a statement. He surrendered to law enforcement on Monday.
Heaps, 62, was charged May 22 with two counts of sexual battery of fraud and one count of sexual exploitation of a patient, said Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Heaps had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.
The charges recall similar allegations against a former University of Southern California gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall. Hundreds of current and former USC students accused.
Tyndall of misconduct. He denied wrongdoing, but USC agreed to pay $215 million to settle a class-action lawsuit.
UCLA said it began investigating Heaps last year, removed him from practice and moved to fire him, which led to his retirement. The school said it also reported him to law enforcement and the state medical board.
“Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable and represents an inexcusable breach of the physician-patient relationship,” Chancellor Gene Block and Vice Chancellor John Mazziotta said in a statement. “We are deeply sorry that a former UCLA physician violated our policies and standards, our trust and the trust of his patients.”
Heaps worked part time at UCLA’s student health center from 1983 to 2010 and was hired full time in 2014. He also held medical staff privileges at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1988 to 2018, the school said.
The school also said it began an independent review in March of how it responds to sexual misconduct “in clinical settings” and will make changes as needed.