Former student files sexual abuse suit against former UCLA OB-GYN
A former student accused former university OB-GYN Edward Wiesmeier of sexual abuse in a lawsuit Thursday. (Noah Danesh/Daily Bruin)
By Justin Jung
Dec. 10, 2021 3:25 p.m.
This post was updated Dec. 15 at 12:14 p.m.
Editor’s note: The article mentions details of sexual assault allegations that may be disturbing to some readers.
Former UCLA OB-GYN Edward Wiesmeier was sued by a former student Thursday for alleged sexual abuse.
The lawsuit, filed against Wiesmeier and the University of California Board of Regents, alleged that the student sought gynecological services at the UCLA Student Health Center around 2000, where she received examinations of her body parts that included medically unnecessary touching. The UCLA Student Health Center is now known as the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.
Wiesmeier was an OB-GYN at UCLA from 1974 to 2007, working in multiple roles including the assistant vice chancellor for student health from 1981 to 2006.
The lawsuit against Wiesmeier alleged sexual battery and misconduct, civil rights violations and emotional harm. The lawsuit further alleged that the UC Regents were aware of Wiesmeier’s conduct but did not further investigate or use safeguards to prevent sexual abuse.
UCLA spokesperson Steve Ritea said in an emailed statement that sexual misconduct is inexcusable, adding that the university published a report in June 2020 compiled by an independent UC Regents special committee investigating misconduct at UCLA Health.
The report named multiple UCLA Health physicians, including Wiesmeier and UCLA OB-GYN James Heaps, who is also accused of sexual assault. Heaps was criminally indicted on 21 counts of felony sexual misconduct in May 2021 and civil lawsuits with hundreds of plaintiffs. He has pled not guilty on all counts.
According to the report, multiple current and former employees of the student health and wellness center said that Wiesmeier engaged in misconduct during gynecological examinations.
“Several current and former Ashe Center employees who worked with Dr. Wiesmeier informed the Committee that Dr. Wiesmeier engaged in the following conduct during exams: ignoring patients’ requests that he not perform certain sensitive exams on a few occasions; appearing to become sexually aroused during exams on a few occasions; and consistently performing non-standard sensitive exams, including unnecessary and repeated touching of the vagina and clitoris,” the report stated.
The report noted that none of the Ashe Center employees interviewed reported their concerns against Wiesmeier, for various reasons including fear of retaliation.
“They offered several explanations for their failures to report, including a lack of patient complaints, deference to Dr. Wiesmeier as a physician and as their supervisor, a lack of training on clinical boundaries and reporting options, and a fear of retaliation,” the report stated.
The UCLA Title IX Office is investigating allegations against Wiesmeier, according to the report.
Ritea also said that UCLA has made several policy changes in response to sexual misconduct including the expanded use of chaperones in sensitive procedures: training on sexual violence, harassment and boundaries; and improved feedback and incident reporting procedures.
Wiesmeier did not respond to a request for comment.
Other former patients of Wiesmeier have until Dec. 31 to file civil lawsuits if they experienced sexual misconduct. In most sexual assault cases, the statute of limitations in California expires within 10 years, but the passage of Assembly Bill 3092 by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020 extended the deadline for victims of UCLA Health physicians amid rising allegations against Heaps.
Wiesmeier will appear in court May 25, 2023, for a final status conference at the Spring Street Courthouse.