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UCLA Accused Of Dragging Its Feet On Investigation Into Gynecologist Charged With Sexually Abusing Patients

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A former UCLA gynecologist accused of abusing patients appeared in court Thursday as new allegations were leveled at the university.

Dr. James Heaps was in court as a judge postponed his preliminary hearing for Jan. 3, 2020. He is accused of sexually abusing two patients he treated at UCLA in 2017 and 2018.

But after the hearing, attorneys representing more than 45 patients accused UCLA of dragging its feet on the investigation into Heaps.

They claimed UCLA's own report that started in December of 2017 found sufficient evidence of sexual assault, but the university continued to allow Heaps to treat patients until he retired the following June. The attorneys also claimed UCLA's report, which was supposed to be completed 60 days after the 2017 allegations, were only released last month.

"It's clear that when given the opportunity to take action and prioritize the well-being of patients, that they instead chose to protect an abuser and to put profits ahead of the women they should have been protecting," attorney Darren Kavinoky said.

UCLA said its report took longer because of the complexity of the case, and because it needed to consult with independent medical experts. The university now has an outside investigation into its response to the allegations.

"...since Dr. Heaps claimed that his actions were medically appropriate, we had to consult an expert outside medical review team to provide an independent analysis and judgement. The complexity and novelty of the case made the investigation take longer than we would have liked. UCLA seeks to do better and is conducting a thorough review of its policies and procedures related to sexual misconduct in clinical settings. UCLA is also implementing necessary changes across all of its clinical sites to achieve the highest standard of patient care we demand of ourselves," a statement read in part.

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