Woman alleges 2008 sexual assault by UCLA gynecologist

June 11, 2019 - 5:04 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A woman says she was sexually assaulted by a gynecologist who worked for the University of California, Los Angeles and is upset the school apparently knew about it from her social media post but never contacted her as it investigated other incidents that led to criminal charges.

The Los Angeles-area woman was a 25-year-old UCLA psychology graduate student and patient of Dr. James Heaps when in 2008 she says he grabbed her breast during a post-operative examination. She told The Associated Press on Tuesday she was angered but kept seeing Heaps and never reported to authorities.

In 2015, upset by favorable ratings for Heaps on Yelp, she posted about her experience and said she felt violated. UCLA officials apparently saw it when the school began investigating Heaps in 2017 but never tried to contact her.

"If they saw my complaint, they should have reached out," said the woman, who requested anonymity. The AP typically doesn't name people who may be sexual assault victims unless they want to be identified.

The woman's complaint is one of four involving Heaps that UCLA now is aware of, according to spokeswoman Rhonda Curry. The school has urged others to come forward if they feel they were mistreated and has hired a company to field reports and search for other alleged victims.

Heaps, 62, pleaded not guilty Monday to sexual battery by fraud against two patients, one in 2017 and another in 2018. He also pleaded not guilty to a count of sexual exploitation of a patient and was released without bail.

The women in the criminal case weren't UCLA students but they were seen at Heaps' office on the UCLA campus. He also worked at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which is where the Los Angeles-area woman saw him.

She underwent surgery in February 2008 and when a male friend came to pick her up, Heaps showed the friend photos taken during the procedure, she said. Heaps did not ask her friend to identify himself and she believed it was a violation of her rights to show photos of her body without her permission.

In her 2015 Yelp post under a pseudonym, the woman wrote: "7 years later, I still feel violated. I still feel creeped out. The thought of the guy makes me cringe. I wish I had said something at the time."

UCLA began investigating Heaps in December 2017 following another complaint. On Monday, the school said investigators saw a 2015 Yelp posting that details a 2008 incident.

Curry did not immediately respond to a request Tuesday to confirm the incident described by the Los Angeles-area woman and the one cited by school officials are the same.

UCLA says Heaps was a part-time consulting physician at the school's student health center from 1983 to 2010. His lawyer, Tracy Green, said Heaps worked a half-day a month and had a private practice on campus from 1991 to 2014, when he sold it to UCLA Health and became an employee.

He was fired just before his contract ended in 2018 as the school investigated the incidents.

Green accused the university of rushing to judgment in the wake of a headline-making scandal at the University of Southern California, where hundreds of women alleged they were sexually abused by the school's longtime staff gynecologist.

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