This post was updated Nov. 7 at 12:14 a.m.
A woman anonymously suing a former UCLA obstetrician-gynecologist for sexual assault charges publicly criticized the doctor during a press conference Wednesday morning.
Julie, who only provided her first name, came forward as the plaintiff Jane Doe 18 in one of at least 20 civil lawsuits so far against James Heaps, a former UCLA obstetrician-gynecologist accused of sexual assault.
Julie revealed her name after attending Heaps’ court appearance, which was to set a preliminary hearing date for separate criminal sexual battery charges that she is not involved in. The two saw each other but did not exchange words.
Heaps was arrested in June for charges of sexual battery by two former patients he treated in 2017 and 2018 and is on trial for two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual exploitation by a physician. In addition to his criminal charges, Heaps, and UCLA, face multiple civil complaints of sexual assault and negligence, among other offenses.
Julie said Heaps diagnosed her with human papillomavirus infection and a high risk for cervical cancer in 2015. A longtime patient of Heaps from 2005 until his retirement in 2018, Julie claims Heaps recommended her to return every four months and made inappropriate sexual advances toward her during these visits.
“Considering his insistence and my family history of cancer, I became extremely fearful and reliant (on) Dr. Heaps for my care, placing my complete trust and confidence in him and his medical expertise,” Julie said. “Dr. Heaps took advantage of my vulnerability and trust to sexually abuse, harass and exploit me financially.”
In the civil complaint filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Sept. 13, Julie described an episode where Heaps compared her breasts to those of her sister.
“Dr. Heaps also repeatedly made comments to Plaintiff Doe 18 which she now understands were abusive and harassing … including talking to her about her sister (who was also a patient of Dr. Heaps), then leering at Plaintiff Doe 18’s breasts and stating, ‘I can tell you are sisters,’” the complaint reads. “Nurses were at times present for this abusive conduct but paid no attention to it and gave Plaintiff Doe 18 no indication that Dr. Heaps’ conduct was inappropriate or unprofessional.”
The parentheses in the quote above were directly copied from the complaint.
Darren Kavinoky and Jennifer McGrath, lawyers representing Julie, said her sister is not a plaintiff in any of the complaints. Julie’s complaint also claims Heaps massaged her body, including her breasts and legs, without medical basis.
Multiple law firms are representing victims in the civil cases against Heaps. Kavinoky said over 40 women have come to him and McGrath, and they continue to receive claims on a daily basis. Court records show they have filed lawsuits for 29 women in 20 complaints. McGrath said they are currently filing lawsuits for the rest of the women they are representing.
Julie also pinned some of the blame on UCLA for failing to respond to multiple complaints filed against Heaps in an effective manner.
“There have been no real policy changes at UCLA to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Julie said. “UCLA has proven they will do nothing to protect women and victims like me but will allow and conceal creditors amongst their ranks for their own financial gain.”
Phil Hampton, a spokesperson for UCLA Health, said in an emailed statement that the university has been conducting an independent review of its policies since March and will enact necessary changes once the review is complete.
Julie said she decided to make her identity public to move on with life.
“I’m here to redeem my self-esteem and go on with my life and trying to get past this,” Julie said. “Seeing him did make my heart race and brought memories back that I’d rather not remember.”
Tracy Green, one of Heaps’ attorneys for his criminal charges, criticized the statement as an attempt to misinform the public.
“The women and the plaintiffs’ attorneys who are coming forward … are apparently trying to create some confusion as if these women are involved in this case,” Green said. “I think using this as an opportunity to help benefit civil lawsuits is an improper use of the criminal court system.”
Leonard Levine, Heaps’ other lawyer, said UCLA will not be able to provide the records necessary for the criminal case until Dec. 20 and expects litigation to begin early next year.
Levine added he hopes the university will side with Heaps in the criminal trial.
“They’re the ones who hired Dr. Heaps,” Levine said. “We would be hoping that they would stand by him because it’s not been established he’s done anything wrong.”
The next preliminary hearing setting will be held Dec. 5 in Department W31 of the Airport Courthouse.