University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Photograph:( Twitter )
Hundreds of lawsuits filed over alleged sexual assault by university gynaecologist James Heap claim that university deliberately tried to hide Heap's crimes
The University of California said on Tuesday that it will pay compensation of nearly quarter of a billion dollars to 200 women who alleged sexual assault by a school gynaecologist.
James Heap, the gynaecologist was affiliated with university's Los Angeles site (UCLA) for 35 years. During this time, he saw thousands of patients.
Hundreds of lawsuits have claimed that the university deliberately hid the gynaecologist's sexual abuse of patients. This, they say, allowed him to continue to have unfettered access to alleged victims over many years.
In a settlement filed in a Los Angeles court, the university agreed to pay $243.6 million to 203 people who alleged they were assaulted by Heaps.
Heaps faces 21 criminal counts of sexual abuse against seven women.
"The conduct alleged to have been committed by Heaps is reprehensible and contrary to the University's values," a statement said Tuesday.
"Our first and highest obligation will always be to the communities we serve, and we hope this settlement is one step toward providing healing and closure for the plaintiffs involved.
"We admire the courage of the plaintiffs in coming forward."
The settlement comes after the University of Michigan agreed to pay $490 million to hundreds of students and athletes who were sexually abused by long-time university doctor Richard Anderson.
Nearby Michigan State University reached a half-billion dollar settlement with 300 people who were abused by Larry Nassar, a doctor who also treated members of the US women's Olympics gymnastics team.
The University of Southern California announced in March last year that it had entered into three settlements totalling $1.1 billion with hundreds of female students sexually abused by a school gynaecologist.
(With inputs from agencies)