Image: AP

A former UCLA gynecologist was arrested Monday afternoon on charges of sexual battery and sexual exploitation related to two patients he treated in 2017 and 2018.

Dr. James Heaps worked in the student health center from 1983 to 2010, and was hired at UCLA Health in 2014. He also held staff privileges at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1988 to 2018, according to an announcement issued by the university. The school acknowledged that it received its first complaint against Heaps back in 2017, but waited a year to place him on leave and only revealed the reason for his departure this week:

“Last year, in response to allegations of sexual misconduct against Dr. Heaps, UCLA investigated his conduct, removed him from clinical practice, informed him that his employment was being terminated (after which he announced he was retiring) and reported him to the Medical Board of California and law enforcement.”

It added that:

“Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable and represents an inexcusable breach of the physician-patient relationship. We are deeply sorry that a former UCLA physician violated our policies and standards, our trust and the trust of his patients.”

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Tracy Green, Heaps’s attorney, said the women who alleged the abuse were patients at his clinic, but not students. Charges were filed against Heaps on May 22, and he turned himself in on Monday. He has pleaded not guilty.

Rhonda Curry, a UCLA Health spokeswoman, told the L.A. Times that the investigation in 2017 was launched after the school received a complaint of inappropriate and medically unnecessary touching and comments. In the course of the investigation, it discovered complaints about Heaps from two other patients in 2014 and 205, one of whom was from a student. Neither complaint is included in the current criminal case.

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The allegations come about a year after USC gynecologist George Tyndall, who was accused of sexual abuse by hundreds of women dating back to the 1990s.