Jury selection continues in trial of former UCLA doctor accused of sexual abuse

(LOS ANGELES) — Jury selection in the trial of former UCLA Health physician James Heaps, who is accused of sexual abuse, began on Monday and is expected to take place the rest of the week.

Heaps faces 21 charges in an ongoing criminal case brought against him in a Los Angeles County Superior Court, according to court records. He has pleaded not guilty.

The trial is expected to last throughout September, the Los Angeles Superior Court told ABC News.

In February, the University of California announced it had reached an agreement to pay $243.6 million to 203 women, settling lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by Heaps.

Last year, the university agreed to pay $73 million in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by seven women, on behalf of 5,500 women who were patients of the former UCLA gynecologist, court records show.

In a statement from 2019 following Heaps’ arrest, the school said it fired Heaps after sexual misconduct allegations emerged and removed him from clinical practice.

“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 school said at the time.

Heaps was an OB-GYN with ties to the school for more than three decades, the school said in its press release.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last year, two women accused Heaps of fondling and groping their breasts without gloves during what were supposed to be breast examinations.

The women also accused him of touching both of their genitals in a sexual manner during a purported vaginal examination, according to the lawsuit.

“The conduct alleged to have been committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to the university’s values. We express our gratitude to the brave individuals who came forward, and hope this settlement is one step toward providing healing and closure for the plaintiffs involved,” UCLA told ABC News in a statement in February.

More than 500 lawsuits were filed against Heaps and the school, accusing UCLA of not protecting patients after it found out about the alleged abuse, according to ABC News Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

An attorney for Heaps, Leonard B. Levine, told The Washington Post in May that Heaps is “adamant” about his innocence.

“He’s looking forward to a jury trial where he believes he’ll be totally exonerated,” Levine told the newspaper.

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