The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

Attorney Mick Grewal discusses how UCLA failed to protect women from a UCLA gynecologist accused of sexual assault, resulting in more women being treated – and allegedly assaulted – while UCLA internally investigated the allegations.

In December, 2018, UCLA officials received a complaint from a woman who informed them that she had been sexually assaulted by UCLA gynecologist James Mason Heaps, M.D., in June of that year.  After being informed of the assault, UCLA officials did not remove Heaps from practice, they did not warn potential patients that he had been accused of assault, and the university did not report Heaps to authorities or to the state medical board.  Instead, UCLA allowed Heaps to continue treating patients, and he allegedly assaulted at least 3 more women while UCLA was performing an internal investigation of the June, 2018, sexual assault allegations.  Finally, in June, 2019, UCLA officials announced Heaps’s retirement.  The university had allowed him to remain a campus gynecologist until this time.  And when Heaps’s retirement was announced, the university didn’t bother to inform the public that their internal investigation had revealed that the doctor had violated UCLA’s policies on sexual misconduct.

On Monday, Heaps surrendered to law enforcement after being charged with 2 counts of sexual battery by fraud and one count of sexual exploitation.  The Los Angeles Times broke this story and began investigating UCLA’s handling of sexual assault and battery complaints.  Since then, UCLA’s actions have been under scrutiny.  Had UCLA suspended Heaps from practice while investigating the sexual assault allegations, the university could have prevented other women from being assaulted by him during office visits.  In fact, federal law requires that university officials warn the campus community if they believe someone accused of sexual assault is a safety threat.  Not only did UCLA fail to protect women from Dr. Heaps, but the university did not even encourage potential victims to come forward.

Since news of Heaps’s charges have been made public, dozens of women have come forward, alleging that Heaps sexually assaulted them while practicing at UCLA.  The earliest allegations against Heaps include instances of him improperly putting his fingers in a woman’s vagina, improperly touching a woman’s genitals, and fondling a woman’s breasts and buttocks while making sexual remarks.

This failure of UCLA officials to protect women– and to try and get help for victims as soon as possible – is extremely troubling.  People throughout the country thought lessons had been learned after the very public trials of Larry Nassar – and after MSU agreed to pay half a billion dollars to the hundreds of survivors of abuse that the university failed to protect.  People are left wondering how UCLA could have let Heaps continue to practice on campus and have privileges at the Ronal Reagan UCLA Medical Center after they heard allegations of sexual assault.  Universities should err on the side of protecting the patient who may have been abused, not the physician who may be an abuser.

HELP FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT & ABUSE SURVIVORS

The sexual assault attorneys at Grewal Law have been fighting for the rights of victims for decades, and they have made it their mission to stop institutional involvement in sexual abuse.  The Grewal team has unique experience in holding universities accountable for allowing sexual abuse to occur and for failing to protect patients and athletes.

Grewal Law represented a third of the plaintiffs in the MSU and Larry Nassar lawsuits who obtained a half a billion dollar settlement from MSU – a settlement the Grewal Law attorneys were instrumental in obtaining.  The nationally known lawyers at Grewal Law are currently fighting to hold USAG accountable for its role in allowing Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse to occur. Indeed, Grewal Law is largely involved in helping over 100 Survivors in the case against USAG, and Grewal Law attorneys are available 24/7 to help anyone who has questions about this lawsuit.

The lawyers at Grewal Law understand what it takes to prevail against large universities and corporations.  Please contact the firm’s experienced attorneys for information regarding sexual assault support groups, and/or for a free consultation.  The sexual assault lawyers at Grewal Law are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you.

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Of Interest