A former UCLA campus gynecologist convicted of sex-related charges involving two patients was denied bail Friday in a bid to be released on bail pending his sentencing hearing.
Superior Court Judge Michael D. Carter rejected arguments from attorneys for Dr. James Mason Heaps, 66, that the defendant does not present a flight risk and intends to show up in court for sentencing.
“He intends to be here,” attorney Tracy Green said. “… He isn’t going anywhere. … He’s not the type of person to run away from his problems.”
Green assured Carter that Heaps intends to surrender his medical license, and she also said her client would submit to home arrest and GPS monitoring.
She also argued that Heaps suffers from various medical issues for which he cannot receive adequate treatment in jail.
Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers countered that Heaps is “facing a lot of time” behind bars for his October conviction on three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
Those charges involved two patients, with jurors finding that those victims were particularly vulnerable and that Heaps had abused a position of trust.
Heaps was acquitted of three counts each of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual battery by fraud, and one count of sexual exploitation of a patient — with those charges involving two other patients.
The judge declared a mistrial on the remaining nine counts — three counts of sexual battery by fraud, four counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and two counts of sexual exploitation of a patient.
The prosecution has not announced if it wants to retry any of those charges.
Heaps is facing more than 20 years in prison. Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for next Friday, March 3.
However, the hearing is likely to be delayed while defense attorneys prepare a motion for a new trial.
Heaps was taken into custody following his conviction in October and is being held without bail.
Arguing against granting Heaps bail, Meyers said the doctor’s “conduct was severe and it was substantial,” saying he had a great impetus to run.
“If I was sitting in the defendant’s shoes, I wouldn’t come back,” Meyers said.
She called arguments about Heaps’ medical conditions “just a ploy as I see it to get the defendant out.”
Carter said he still finds Heaps “to be a danger to the community,” and ruled that he did not find any dramatic change of circumstances since October to warrant granting bail.
Heaps — who was ordered in 2019 to “cease and desist from the practice of medicine as a condition of bail” after he was first charged that year — served as a gynecologist/oncologist, affiliated with UCLA, for nearly 35 years.
At various times, he saw patients at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and at his office at 100 Medical Plaza.
At one time, Heaps was reportedly the highest-paid physician in the UC system and had treated about 6,000 patients, attorneys said.
More than 500 lawsuits were filed against Heaps and UCLA, accusing the school of failing to protect patients after becoming aware of the misconduct.
In May, attorneys for 312 former patients of Heaps announced the $374 million settlement of abuse lawsuits against the University of California.
The settlement came on top of a $243.6 million resolution of lawsuits involving about 200 patients announced in February, and a $73 million settlement of federal lawsuits reached last year involving roughly 5,500 plaintiffs.
The lawsuits alleged that UCLA actively and deliberately concealed Heaps’ sexual abuse of patients.
UCLA continued to allow Heaps to have unfettered sexual access to female patients — many of whom were cancer patients — at the university, plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged in the suits.
“This agreement, combined with earlier settlements involving other plaintiffs, resolves the vast majority of the claims alleging sexual misconduct by James Heaps, a former UCLA Health physician,” UCLA said in a statement last May. “The conduct alleged to have been committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to our values. We are grateful to all those who came forward, and hope this settlement is one step toward providing some level of healing for the plaintiffs involved.“
Source: NBC Los Angeles
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