Tuesday's announcement by the University of California system saw it pay almost $375 million to 300 women who claimed they were sexually abused at UCLA by a gynecologist. This is a record-breaking amount for a public university following a spate of campus doctor sexual misconduct scandals.
This settlement follows previous agreements with hundreds of patients who claimed that Dr. James Heaps had groped them and made suggestive comments during his 35-year career.
"Dr. "Dr. "Today's settlement was the result of the bravery displayed by these victims and sends a signal that healthcare institutions must protect vulnerable patient and respond promptly to complaints of abuse.
The settlement will pay Heap's patients nearly $700,000,000, which dwarfs the $500 million Michigan State University made in 2018, which was considered to be the largest public university settlement. Private institution University of Southern California has agreed to pay $1 billion to settle thousands of cases against its long-time gynecologist.
Heaps, 65 years old, has pleaded guilty to 21 felonies for allegedly sexually assaulting seven female victims.
The lawsuits were brought by women who claimed UCLA ignored their complaints, and concealed abuses that occurred for decades in examinations at UCLA's student health center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, or in Heaps office.
UCLA admitted that it had received a complaint about Heaps' sex abuse from a patient in December 2017. It launched an investigation the next month, which concluded that she was being sexually assaulted.
Heaps continued to practice until he retired in June 2018. The university didn't release the findings of the investigation until November 2019, months after Heaps had been arrested.
The university has previously reached settlements worth $316 million with Heaps patients. According to the university, the settlement reached with 312 women resolved the majority of Heaps claims.
UCLA released a statement saying that Heaps' conduct was "reprehensible" and against its values. "We are grateful for all who came forward and hope that this settlement will provide some healing for the plaintiffs."
According to the university, it will pay for settlements using a combination insurance, capital bond proceeds and risk financing.
Massive settlements have been made at Johns Hopkins University, Ohio State University, and Columbia University for sexual abuse committed by college students.
Michigan State paid $500,000,000 to 300 girls and women who claimed they were abused by Larry Nassar. He was also a campus doctor and a doctor in USA Gymnastics. Nassar also sexually assaulted Olympic gold medal gymnasts and is currently in prison, which will likely keep him behind bars for the rest his life.
The University of Michigan settled for $490 million with over 1,000 victims who claimed they were sexually assaulted during Dr. Robert Anderson's nearly four-decade-long career as a school sports doctor.