Alleged sexual assault victim of former UCLA gynecologist speaks out

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a former UCLA gynecologist is blaming the school and accusing the institution of trying to cover for him.

Gaby Vasquez spoke out publicly for the first time about the alleged sexual abuse she says she suffered at the hands of gynecologist Dr. James Heaps. Vasquez says it allegedly happened in 2017.

"UCLA could have stopped this if they had listened to me," she said.

Vasquez was then and still is a medical assistant at UCLA.

She's among the more than 30 women who have filed a joint civil lawsuit against Heaps and UCLA.

In the lawsuit, Vasquez alleges Heaps used an internal ultrasound device in a "sexual manner as if he were simulating sexual intercourse..." and later, when Vasquez says she reported the incident to her supervisor, she was told, "maybe you took it the wrong way," "do you want to lose your job," and "you need to be quiet."

"Instead of acting quickly and appropriately to investigate, UCLA protected him and harassed me," Vasquez said.

Since Vasquez reported her incident, other women have come forward with similar allegations of abuse. Heaps' defense attorney has said the alleged victims may have misunderstood some procedures.

"I am sad, disgusted, and disappointed by this attempt to blame the victims of sexual assault for the conduct of those who abuse them," Vasquez said in response.

UCLA released a statement Tuesday saying an independent review of UCLA's response to sexual misconduct in clinical settings began in March, and "based on the findings of the review, UCLA will identify and implement necessary changes across all clinical sites. The process will be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability, fairness and devotion to our patients."

Meantime, Vasquez is urging anyone who has been victimized by a medical professional to speak up.

"Most doctors are good people, but if something doesn't seem right, speak loudly and clearly and don't stop. Trust yourself," she said.

Heaps' attorney, Tracy Green, released a statement Tuesday in response to Vasquez's allegations.

It read, in part:

"Dr. Heaps denies each and every allegation in this lawsuit except for the fact that he saw this patient approximately three times at her request. Dr. Heaps never touched or examined her in any way for anything but medical reasons. The claim that he conducted the exam for his own personal gratification is an outrageously false claim."

Heaps is no longer at UCLA.

His medical license has been suspended, and he is facing felony sexual assault charges involving two victims.

He is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
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