LOS ANGELES (KABC) — For the second day in a row, the jury in the trial of a former UCLA gynecologist accused of sexually abusing seven patients has had to begin its deliberations again because the jury had to be replaced for various reasons.
Since Monday, the jury in the case of Dr. Advising James Mason Heaps. There was no verdict on Wednesday.
A juror was excused on medical grounds Monday and replaced by a deputy. Another juror was excused Tuesday afternoon due to financial hardship and was replaced by another juror.
There is only one alternate judge.
“If we do run out of juries in this case, the judge will have no choice but to declare a mistrial and then the trial will have to start over,” said Lou Shapiro, criminal defense attorney and legal analyst. “So the judge, all parties are very reluctant to have to do this again.”
Heaps, 65, is on trial for sexual harassment by fraud and penetrating an unconscious person by fraudulent display, as well as three counts of sexually exploiting a patient with alleged crimes between 2009 and 2018.
The crimes allegedly happened while Heaps was working as a UCLA gynecologist.
According to Shapiro, if there isn’t enough jury to reach a verdict and a mistrial is declared, it could benefit the defense because “it puts another obstacle in front of the prosecution’s case to convict the defendant.”
More than 500 lawsuits have been filed against Heaps and UCLA, accusing the school of failing to protect patients after becoming aware of the wrongdoing.
In May, attorneys for 312 former Heaps patients announced a $374 million settlement in abuse claims against the University of California.
The settlement comes in addition to a $243.6 million settlement of lawsuits involving about 200 patients announced in February and a $73 million settlement of federal lawsuits reached last year and in which approximately 5,500 plaintiffs were involved.
The lawsuits alleged that UCLA actively and intentionally concealed Heaps’ sexual abuse of patients. UCLA continued to allow Heaps unhindered sexual access to female patients — many of whom were cancer patients — at the university, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuits alleged.
UCLA issued a statement in May, saying, “This agreement, combined with previous settlements involving other plaintiffs, resolves the vast majority of allegations alleging sexual misconduct by James Heaps, a former UCLA medical doctor, accuse.
“The behavior allegedly committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to our values. We are grateful to all who have come forward and hope this settlement is a step towards some healing for the plaintiffs affected.
“We strive to provide the highest quality of care that respects the dignity of each patient. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the well-being of our patients and to maintain public confidence,” the statement continued.
The City News Service contributed to this report.
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https://abc7.com/james-heaps-former-ucla-gynecologist-sexual-abuse-trial-jury/12348508/ James Heaps case: 2 jurors replaced by proxies in trial of former UCLA gynecologist accused of sex abuse