UCLA/Heaps Victims - What to Expect

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What to expect when you come forward as one of Dr. Heaps' sexual assault victims

For decades, many of those who suffered from the inappropriate behavior of UCLA’s gynecologist, Dr. James Mason Heaps, were silenced by the University of California, Los Angeles. The silence has ended, and our legal team can be your megaphone.

Coming forward with your individual story about what happened to you at UCLA is your personal choice and no one else’s. Should you choose to step forward and join other UCLA alumnae, we want you to be as prepared as possible for any outcome. UCLA chose to ignore and stifle those who spoke out against Dr. Heaps. Hagens Berman will do everything in its power to empower, protect and uplift anyone who chooses to come forward and to assist each individual in their journey.

What can I expect when I come forward about UCLA’s Dr. HEaps?

You can expect anonymity. If you choose to come forward about your experience with UCLA’s Dr. Heap, you can choose to file your case as an anonymous Jane Doe, which many of our plaintiffs have done. We protect your identity from public knowledge and ensure that no one is aware of your identity in this case, if you choose to remain anonymous. Our legal team has extensive experience working with confidential corporate whistleblowers and understands and respects the need for personal privacy when dealing with sensitive matters. Your protection is our top concern.

You can expect a female attorney to discuss your experience with. Hagens Berman’s sexual harassment legal team is comprised of attorneys from across the nation with a wide range of experience in cases of this nature. The women who work in our practice will bring sensitivity and care to your case and will speak with you confidentially about your experiences in any manner you choose – by phone, email, mail or at any one of our national offices.

You can expect the chance to make change happen. This investigation seeks systemic change. Our attorneys are interested both in fighting for your rights against UCLA and Dr. Heaps, but also in protecting future UCLA students, and women on campuses across the nation. Changes our legal team is fighting for in this case could include changes to UCLA medical examination protocols, third-party oversight of UCLA’s health centers, and clear reporting requirements when any medical staff receives a complaint or is witness to a breach of medical protocols – no matter how small.

You can expect one of the nation’s best team of attorneys advocating for you. Heading our firm’s sexual abuse legal team is Steve Berman, our co-founder and managing partner who tried the first ever sexual harassment case in Washington state and represented plaintiffs in a nationwide class action alleging sexual harassment on behalf of 16,000 current and former female employees of a commercial property brokerage firm. The settlement required changes to human resource policies and a streamlined claims process that provided the potential for individual awards up to $150,000 per class member. Shelby R. Smith in our firm’s Seattle office has dedicated her career to serving vulnerable victims of violent crimes, and spent five years in the Domestic Violence Unit and Special Assault Unit during her 10 years as a prosecutor, where she handled hundreds of cases involving physical and sexual abuse of children and adults.

You can expect a chance to set the record straight. Simply put, UCLA tried to wipe these decades of inappropriate and unforgivable behavior from its record, and to pretend it did not happen. That’s not how Hagens Berman operates. Bringing injustices to the light of day is at the core of our firm’s beliefs. Our attorneys uphold the rights of the marginalized and ensure that no truth goes untold. This investigation is your chance to tell the real story, not the one UCLA has sold to the public.

You can expect the ability to be as public or private about your matter as you’d like. Your choice to remain completely anonymous is yours. But if you do wish to empower yourself through speaking out and being visible in regard to your case, our legal team is here to help you do so. Our attorneys and staff have extensive experience in media relations and will help guide you through interviews, op-eds and other public-facing statements that you may wish to make. We are your resource.

You can expect that your bravery will inspire others. Filing a lawsuit is a meaningful endeavor and one that will capture the attention of others like you. When you choose to speak out about your experience with UCLA and Dr. Heaps, other women at UCLA may follow in your footsteps. Your voice will be an inspiration to others.

You can expect to hold perpetrators accountable. We believe that the law is one of the most powerful and effective tools any individual can possess. A class-action lawsuit seeks to compensate all victims who suffered the same abuse, but it also seeks to push systemic change though a large, unified front. There is no underestimating the strength in numbers of dozens of women armed with the power of justice and the law.

You can expect to become a part of the MeToo movement. The MeToo movement has been heralded as one of the most significant public campaigns in history, and its effects will inform political, social and personal shifts across the country for years to come. Our firm is proud to be a part of this cultural shift and help break the silence, and we would be honored for you to join us.

Most of all, you can expect to have a choice. For decades, UCLA chose for you. UCLA chose that what happened to you would be ignored, and that Dr. Heaps’ heinous actions would be protected. Now, you’re in control. You can choose what becomes public knowledge, and you can choose to hold the defendants in this case accountable – accountable for you, and for all of the other women at UCLA like you.

If you have other questions, our attorneys are fully available to you in confidence. Our attorneys have a comprehensive and compassionate approach to this area of the law, coupled with a dedicated and proved track record of expert legal representation and outcomes. Read more about our firm’s sexual harassment team here »


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