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Former UCLA gynecologist charged with sexual battery turns self into police and pleads not guilty


In this file photo, The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is seen on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles Friday, April 26, 2019. Heaps held medical privileges at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. (Reed Saxon/AP)

A former UCLA gynecologist charged with sexual battery turned himself into the police, plead not guilty and was released without bail Monday.

The charges against James Heaps stem from incidents in 2017 and 2018 that two of his patients came forward with last year, the university’s Chancellor Gene Block and Vice Chancellor John Mazziotta said in a joint statement Monday.

The allegations include “inappropriate and medically unnecessary touching and communications during a gynecologic procedure,” according to UCLA.

Heaps plead not guilty to two counts of sexual battery by fraud and one count of sexual exploitation of a patient. Following his pleas, he was released without bail.

Since the allegations arose, three others have come forward with similar allegations according to the university. Following the allegations, Heaps retired from UCLA as he was going to be fired and the university reported him to the Medical Board of California and law enforcement.

Heaps worked at the UCLA Health center from his internship in 1983 until 2018. He served as a consulting physician for UCLA from the beginning of his internship until June 2010. From 1990 to 2014, he also had his own private practice.

He had privileges at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1989 until 2018. Tracy Green, Heaps’ lawyer, said the former gynecologist became a contract employee after UCLA bought his private practice.

Students may have been referred to him while he had his private practice until he was hired as a UCLA Health employee in 2014, the university said.

Green said that the two patients accusing Heaps of sexual battery were not UCLA students, but that they saw him at the clinic in 2017 and 2018.

UCLA sent a letter to students and issued a public apology.

“Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable and represents an inexcusable breach of the physician-patient relationship. We are deeply sorry that a former UCLA physician violated our policies and standards, our trust and the trust of his patients,” the university said in a statement.

The school launched an independent review in March to investigate how it responds to sexual assault allegations. Based on the review, UCLA said it will “identify and implement necessary changes" across the school’s clinical sites.

“Our process will be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, fairness and devotion to our patients," UCLA said.

UCLA has also partnered with a third-party resource called Praesidium, which helps connect patients with support services. The university encouraged those with complaints against Heaps to contact Praesidium at 888-961-9273.

With News Wire Services