UCLA

Ex-UCLA Gynecologist is Sentenced to 11 Years for Sex Abuse

In October, the former UCLA gynecologist was found guilty of three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person.

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A former UCLA campus gynecologist convicted of sex-related charges was sentenced to 11 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.

James Heaps worked as a gynecologist and oncologist with UCLA for 35 years, and at one point, was the highest paid physician in the UC system.

He was indicted on 21 counts of sexually assaulting his patients.

Heaps sat in a Burbank courtroom Wednesday with his head hung low as he was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for five counts of sexual assault.

"For four years we have been fighting and today we finally have a reason to smile," said victim Ellen Cater.

In October, the former UCLA gynecologist was found guilty of three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person.

After the verdict, Heaps’ attorney filed a motion for a new trial, but the judge denied the motion Wednesday, instead moving forward with sentencing.

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"We are victims at the hand of a doctor and an institution that we trusted. Hopefully this verdict can empower other victims to come forward," victim Melanie Padilla said.

"It’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do is talk about such personal things," victim Nicole Gumpert said.

Multiple victims expressed their gratitude to those who worked on the case.

Jennifer McGrath, who represented three of the victims, had a message for institutions around the country.

"Please, please pay attention to this day. Remember this day and protect patients. Take the actions that are needed to protect patients," she said.

Deputy district attorneys Danette Meyers and Rosa Zavala said they believed the sentence was fair, and the Heaps must serve at least 85% of his sentence.

"Through this trial it took a lot of courage for all of these women to come forward," Zavala said.

Heaps’ defense attorney Leonard Levine maintains his client’s innocence and says he looks forward to the appellate process.

"He was convicted of five of 21 counts. That’s five too many. I take responsibility for that. I believe he should have been found not guilty of all 21 counts and we won't be happy until that occurs," Levine said. "This is not over by a long shot."

After facing more than 500 lawsuits by hundreds of patients, UCLA has paid nearly $700 million in settlements.

Back in October, a judge declared a mistrial on nine of the 21 counts of sexual assault and the DA has not said whether they plan file those charges again.

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