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Former UCLA OB-GYN James Heaps’ criminal trial begins with testimony

The sexual assault trial against former UCLA OB-GYN James Heaps (pictured) began Aug. 9 and remains underway. The trial began with opening statements and continues now with testimony from female witnesses. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Benjamin Apsley

Aug. 21, 2022 6:10 p.m.

This post was updated Aug. 21 at 8:34 p.m.

The sexual assault trial against former UCLA OB-GYN James Heaps began Aug. 9 and remains underway.

Heaps, who was previously a faculty member at the David Geffen School of Medicine and an OB-GYN at UCLA Health from 2014 to 2018, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 100 former patients. In May 2021, a grand jury indicted him on 21 counts of felony sexual assault.

The trial process began Aug. 1 with jury selection at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Opening statements from Danette Meyers, the prosecuting attorney for the case, and Leonard Levine, the defense attorney, began Aug. 9.

Meyers said Heaps’ behavior led to fear and stress for his patients, betraying their trust in him and his health institution.

“The evidence will establish they (his patients) were all in fear, they were scared,” Meyers said.

Levine argued actions taken by Heaps at UCLA Health fell under his responsibility to look for and treat cancer.

“The more thoroughly he does his job, which he did, the better the chance of him finding cancer if it’s there, and treating it,” Levine said.

A former patient going by Kara C. opened testimony against Heaps on Wednesday, according to reports from ABC7. According to ABC7, Kara C. used a female anatomical doll as a prop to show how Heaps touched her in ways she testified were inappropriate.

On Jan. 11, a federal court approved a class-action settlement against Heaps of $73 million, though hundreds of women opted out to pursue individual civil lawsuits.

On Feb. 8, the University of California Board of Regents reached a settlement of $243.6 million with more than 150 plaintiffs in sexual assault and misconduct civil lawsuits against Heaps.

If convicted in the criminal trial, Heaps potentially faces more than 91 years in prison, according to the California Penal Code.

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