Finally acknowledging that hundreds of college students were abused by a school gynecologist, the University of Southern California will pay three settlements to victims totaling $1.1 billion.
For 27 years, Dr. George Tyndall worked at the USC student health center as a gynecologist. During that time, Dr. Tyndall used his workplace to sexually prey on hundreds of women. Although women complained of his behavior as far back as 1989, USC did not terminate his employment until 2016 through an arrangement that involved the school paying Dr. Tyndall $200,000 to leave his position.
Despite the significant sums paid by USC, not even $1 billion can explain away or account for the troubled history of complaint after complaint, and multiple ignored opportunities when USC administrators simply chose to look the other way rather than address the behavior of Mr. Tyndall.
In addition to malpractice and missed diagnoses, Dr. Tyndall openly carried on his abusive practice regardless of requests from superiors to do otherwise. Consider the following:
- In 1997, Dr. Larry Neinstein, who was then director of the clinic in which Dr. Tyndall worked, spoke to Dr. Tyndall about three complaints he had received. That same year, one woman wrote on a clinic comment card that she would never see the physician again and “If you don’t want a huge future lawsuit on your hands, I highly suggest the termination of this man.” After speaking with Dr. Neinstein, Dr. Tyndall thanked him for letting him know about “the minor problem of his practice style.”
- Patients and co-workers of Dr. Tyndall made oral and written reports to the administration about his lewd conduct in the 1990’s. USC claimed no documented claims were received about the physician before 2000.
- Between 2000 and 2003, Dr. Tyndall refused to allow nurse chaperones or medical assistants to observe pelvic exams. Thereafter, Dr. Tyndall continued to make inappropriate comments, tell lewd stories, photograph women’s genitals, and conduct abusive physical exams. Dr. Tyndall targeted Chinese students who were less likely to say anything about the abuse.
- In 2013, an investigator assigned by the school spoke with practice partners of Dr. Tyndall and one student. Despite mounting evidence and student accounts, the investigator wrote that she found no violations of clinic policy.
- By 2016, a clinic nursing supervisor approached the campus rape crises center. Concerned that the clinic refused to address the issue, she sought advice on what to do. As a result of that action, USC placed Dr. Tyndall on leave and retained a medical review firm to investigate his practice. Their report confirmed his abusive practices as well as discrimination against other groups such as older, obese, or non-Asian women. As a result of the report, the deal was struck to pay off Dr. Tyndall to leave. The findings were not reported to the California State Licensing Board.
Dr. Tyndall, now 74, was arrested and remains free on bond. He faces 35 criminal charges including sexual battery by fraud and sexual penetration and faces a maximum prison sentence of 64 years.
The abuse by Dr. Tyndall changed the lives of those who suffered his assault. The callous behavior of USC in ignoring, diverting, and challenging the real-time complaints and pain of those he abused is equally egregious. A prison term for the offender and money are the only recompense for victims—cold comfort for the loss suffered.
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