Ex-UCLA gynecologist James Heaps guilty of sexually abusing patients of 12 years
FILE PHOTO – Former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps leaves the Los Angeles County Superior Court after a sentencing hearing for Heaps in Los Angeles, California June 24, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A former UCLA gynecologist pleaded guilty on Friday to sexually assaulting patients of up to 12 years and has begun serving prison time after a judge rejected a request for a reduced sentence.
James Heaps, 62, told investigators he abused patients over the years by rubbing their anuses with his bare hands and fondling their genitalia during genital exams, a criminal complaint said.
A second man, who knew Heaps, pleaded guilty to sexual assault last July and said in court filings that Heaps had molested him as well.
Judge Michael Pastor of Los Angeles Superior Court found Heaps guilty of three counts of sexual assault, saying that in some instances the assaults happened for years.
“The conduct is reprehensible and disturbing,” Judge Pastor said. “You do not deserve to be a free man.”
An attorney for Heaps, who was once a prominent gynecologist in California, could not immediately be reached on Friday.
Heaps has been accused of sexually abusing patients since 2014 while working at a private hospital in California and a doctor’s office in West Hollywood that also used a different part of his medical license.
Heaps’ lawyers said they were seeking a court-ordered psychiatric examination, but Pastor rejected that request. He sent Heaps to prison.
“No one deserves to be behind bars but James Heaps,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “The plea agreement resolves all charges against this defendant and he will be released soon.”
Heaps made his initial appearance in the case on Wednesday.
He was fired from his job at the private hospital in 2012 after complaints that he was not performing well. He later worked at several other hospitals, including a cancer center in California, but he was not employed after that in the public sector.
Prosecutors said Heaps performed sex-related procedures on his patients between 1996 and 2014, including performing pelvic exams and genital exams that included rubbing their anuses with his bare hands and, on at least one occasion, touching the