LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles was found guilty on five counts in a sexual abuse case Thursday in a Los Angeles court.
The jury found Dr. James Heaps not guilty on seven of the 21 counts and were deadlocked on the remaining charges.
Heaps, a longtime campus gynecologist at UCLA, had pleaded not guilty to 21 felony counts in the sexual assaults of seven women between 2009 and 2018. He has denied wrongdoing.
Heaps was indicted last year on multiple counts each of sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual penetration of an unconscious person by fraudulent representation.
The jury delivered a guilty verdict on three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person. He was found not guilty of seven other counts of sexual battery and penetration, as well as one count of sexual exploitation. The jury was hung on the nine remaining counts, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial for those charges.
UCLA has agreed to pay nearly $700 million in lawsuit settlements to hundreds of Heaps’ patients, who said he groped them, made suggestive comments or conducted unnecessarily invasive exams during his 35-year career.
Women who brought the lawsuits said the university ignored their complaints and deliberately concealed abuse that happened for decades during examinations at the UCLA student health center, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center or in Heaps’ campus office.
UCLA acknowledged it received a sex abuse complaint against Heaps from a patient in December 2017 and it launched an investigation the following month that concluded she was sexually assaulted and harassed, attorneys said.
Heaps, however, continued to practice until his retirement in June 2018 amid the scandal. The university did not release its finding in the investigation until November 2019 — months after Heaps was arrested.
“UCLA Health is grateful for the patients who came forward," the university said in a statement after the verdict. "Sexual misconduct of any kind is reprehensible and intolerable. Our overriding priority is providing the highest quality care while ensuring that patients feel safe, protected and respected.”
Heaps’ attorney did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
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