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Former UCLA gynecologist faces 17 additional felony charges

Dr. James M. Heaps, a former UCLA gynecologist
Dr. James M. Heaps, a former UCLA gynecologist, was charged Monday with 17 additional felonies related to sexual misconduct and abuse alleged by five former patients.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County prosecutors dramatically expanded their case against a former UCLA gynecologist on Monday, charging him with 17 additional felonies related to his alleged sexual abuse of five former patients.

Dr. James M. Heaps, 67, who was already facing three similar charges of alleged abuse against two other former patients, was handcuffed and taken into custody. His bond was set at $650,000.

Prosecutors allege that Heaps abused the women during medical exams over a seven-year span, from 2011 to 2018. The charges include sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person, according to the complaint.

Heaps pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to return to court Sept. 15.

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If convicted as charged, Heaps faces a possible maximum sentence of more than 67 years in state prison, according to the district attorney’s office.

Outside the courtroom, Heaps’ attorney Leonard Levine said several former patients have come forward in support of his client.

“When this case gets into court, Dr. Heaps will be totally exonerated,” Levine said.

Since Heaps’ arrest, dozens of former patients have filed lawsuits against him, alleging various sexual abuse.

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Heaps was affiliated with UCLA from 1983 to 2018. From 1990 to January 2014, he worked in private practice.

The behavior of a prominent UCLA Health gynecologist during an exam with a married mother of four amounted to sexual assault and harassment, according to an investigative report by the university made public Thursday.

Heaps retired in June 2018. UCLA did not disclose that he had been the subject of complaints and investigations until a year later, when he was charged.

Times staff writer Nina Agrawal contributed to this report.


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