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UCLA To Pay $243M in Settlement For Sex Abuse By Doctor

The University of California has agreed to pay $243.6 million to settle allegations that hundreds of women were sexually abused by a former UCLA gynecologist. The settlement covers about 50 cases involving 203 women who said they were groped or otherwise abused by James Heaps over a 35-year career. Each will receive $1.2 million. The deal was reached with help from a private mediator after substantial litigation. Lawsuits charged that UCLA ignored decades of complaints and deliberately concealed abuse, the Associated Press reports. "I’ve been waiting 20 years for this day,” said Julie Wallach, who said she was abused by Dr. Heaps in the late 1990s—but when she reported it to UCLA and the state medical board, “no one listened.” Kara Cagle said she was assaulted by Dr. Heaps eight years ago, at a time when she had been undergoing grueling treatment for a rare form of breast cancer. “I could never have imagined that someone would have taken such despicable advantage of me during that time. It was so traumatic that I left in tears,” she said, adding, “my heart breaks for all the women who were not spared.” UCLA began investigating Dr. Heaps in 2017, and he retired the next year after the school declined to renew his contract. He was charged last year with 21 counts of sexual offenses involving seven women. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. Plaintiffs' attorney John Manly called Dr. Heaps a sophisticated predator who committed abuse under the guise of normal medical procedures such as pelvis and breast examinations. Many of the people who made accusations of abuse were cancer patients, he said.

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