Plaintiffs await James Heaps’ sentencing hearing following conviction
Former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps is pictured in court. A jury found him guilty on five counts of sexual misconduct in October. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Nov. 1, 2022 10:33 p.m.
Five guilty charges, three settlements and years later, the 312 clients for a former UCLA OB-GYN sexual assault case will be able to find closure, according to two prosecutors on the case.
James Heaps, a former OB-GYN with UCLA Health until 2018, was convicted on three counts of sexual battery and two of sexual penetration Oct. 20. Jennifer McGrath and Darren Kavinoky, two attorneys representing three of the seven women on the case, have been involved in the case since 2018 when one of Heaps’ patients reported the doctor to the medical board for sexual misconduct, they said.
Heaps, who is 65, faces up to 28 years in prison and will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Kavinoky said. The sentencing hearing will be held Nov. 17 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
McGrath said the monetary compensation from the settlements and the criminal charges will not make up for the harm done to the women. UCLA will also need to improve its reporting mechanisms and procedures for patients who feel unsafe or uncomfortable, McGrath said.
“It’s not really possible to fully recover from this when there’s such a breach of trust, right?” she said. “Many of them are told he was the finest physician of his kind in the LA area. … They were seeking cancer care from him. When that trust is kind of completely violated, it’s very difficult to recover from that.”
However, the attorneys said, they and their clients are gratified with the results of the criminal trial.
“We are happy our clients received the long-awaited closure they’ve been looking for and can begin their healing process,” Kavinoky said in an emailed statement. “ Our hope is that this verdict will make all victims of abuse more confident in coming forward and know they will be heard and believed because their story matters.”