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Class action lawsuit filed against UCLA gynecologist

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two women said in a federal class action lawsuit they were sexually assaulted by a former gynecologist who worked for the University of California, Los Angeles. The lawsuit states Dr. James Heaps sexually assaulted the women and made sexually inappropriate comments during their appointments. The suit also alleges that UCLA failed to protect Heaps' patients and acted negligently.

The class action lawsuit is the latest lawsuit to be filed against Heaps and UCLA, though others have been pursued through state court. Heaps has been criminally charged with the sexual battery of two patients, but he denies any wrongdoing. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to return to court Aug. 29.

As of July 31, 130 former patients had reached out to UCLA with "concerns about their interactions" with Heaps, UCLA spokeswoman Rhonda Curry said. An additional 161 former patients expressed support for the doctor.

Elizabeth Kramer, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit now needs a judge's permission to move forward as a class action case. She said this suit could potentially help women who were victimized but cannot file their own, separate lawsuits.

Curry did not immediately have a comment about the class action case Monday. Heaps' attorney, Tracy Green, said some women may not understand what constitutes standard pelvic and clinical breast medical examinations.

"Many of the allegations in the civil lawsuit are claiming that standard medical exams are misconduct or sexual," she said in an email. The lawsuit was filed last Tuesday against Heaps, the university system's regents and other unnamed defendants in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

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