Judge approves $73 million settlement to sex victims of UCLA doctor

Judge approves $73 million settlement to sex victims of UCLA doctor
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A federal judge on Monday issued final approval for a $73 million settlement for a lawsuit that alleged around 6,000 women were sexually abused by a former gynecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), The Associated Press reports.

The settlement with UCLA was reached last year in the lawsuit in which over 6,600 patients of former gynecologist James Heaps alleged that he had groped them, simulated intercourse with an ultrasound probe and made inappropriate comments during exams. The allegations stem from his time working at UCLA's student health center and UCLA Medical Center from 1983 to 2018.

“We thank the individuals who came forward and hope that this settlement — which is still subject to court approval — is one small step forward for the patients involved," UCLA said in November when the settlement was first proposed.

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Heaps was arrested in 2019 and his medical license was suspended.

At the time, Heaps's lawyer Leonard Levine said the settlement was "far too premature" and maintained that his client was "innocent of all criminal charges."

In a statement to the AP, UCLA Health said, "While we can’t comment on the specifics of today’s legal action, we can say unequivocally that sexual misconduct or abuse is inexcusable. We remain committed to providing quality care that respects the dignity of every patient."

In May, it was reported that Heaps is facing an additional 21 felony counts. The former doctor could face up to 24 years in prison in addition to the maximum 67 he currently faces.

The Hill has reached out to UCLA and Levine's office for comment on the settlement's approval.