UCLA has agreed to a $243.6 million settlement in 50 cases of alleged sexual assault by a gynecologist who has worked at an academic institution for decades.
According to the allegations of 203 women who filed a lawsuit against the university in state court, Dr. James Hips committed numerous acts of sexual assault and misconduct during his tenure at UCLA Health and the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center from the 1980s to 2018. UCLA announced the settlement on Tuesday.
Hips has been charged with 21 criminal sex offenses against seven women. The doctor, whose license was suspended, pleaded not guilty.
In their lawsuits, the plaintiffs alleged that UCLA did not act quickly enough when reporting Heaps.
In addition to paying $1.2 million to each woman, UCLA Health has taken steps to prevent, detect, and address sexual harassment, according to the university.
UCLA Health and the Student Medical Center have begun implementing several directives, including increasing their Title IX resources to assemble a team to coordinate effective and timely responses to reports of sexual harassment, improve escort policies for sensitive exams and procedures, and implement strict pre-admissions. to work. and certification protocols.
UCLA said in a statement that Heaps’ alleged behavior is “reprehensible and contrary to the university’s values” and that the university hopes the settlement will bring healing and closure for the women involved.
“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to never condone sexual assault or harassment in any form,” the statement said. “Allegations of sexual harassment by any health care provider will be promptly addressed and appropriate action will be taken to ensure the safety, protection and respect of our patients.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyer did not provide comments.
Hips is the subject of this and hundreds of other lawsuits from women alleging violence, many of whom were being treated for cancer.
In 2021, UCLA agreed to pay $73 million to settle a class action lawsuit involving over 100 women. These patients said that Hips groped them, simulated intercourse with an ultrasound probe, or made sexual comments during pelvic and breast exams at various times during his 35-year career.
Hips began working at UCLA in 1983 and retired in 2018 — a year after the university began investigating his conduct — when UCLA did not renew his contract.
In 2019, UCLA called for an independent investigative committee to review its response to patient complaints about Heap. The commission released a report recommending new rules and procedures to prevent sexual violence.