Five former USC students Monday filed what are believed to be the first lawsuits against the university stemming from revelations of years-old misconduct complaints against Dr. George Tyndall, the longtime gynecologist at the university Student Health Center.
In one lawsuit, four women identified only as Jane Does contend that Tyndall forced them to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his “sexual gratification.” The suit also accuses the university of failing to properly respond to complaints about Tyndall.
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on this basis allege, that defendant USC benefited financially from actively concealing myriad complaints of sexual abuse made by its female students against Tyndall by protecting its own reputation and financial coffers,” according to the lawsuit.
“Defendant USC’s deliberate and fraudulent concealment included, but was not limited to, paying Tyndall a financial settlement so that he would quietly resign, after defendant USC’s 2016 investigation revealed that Tyndall routinely made sexually and racially inappropriate remarks to patients, kept a secret box full of photographs of his patients’ genitals and had documented complaints against him lodged to defendant USC dating back to at least the year 2000.”
The suit refers to Tyndall as a “serial sexual predator.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, a USC law school graduate filed a second lawsuit Monday, saying Tyndall put his fingers inside her during a pelvic exam and remarked on the “tightness of her genital muscles.”
A university spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuits. According to the Los Angeles Times, the university issued a statement saying it was aware of the lawsuits, and the university is “focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and providing support to those affected.”
The Times also reported that USC Provost Michael Quick sent a letter Monday to Tyndall’s former patients.
“It is true that our system failed, but it is important that you know that this claim of a cover-up is patently false,” Quick wrote in the letter, according to The Times. “We would never knowingly put students in harm’s way.”
He claimed in the letter that USC senior leaders did not learn about complaints against Tyndall until last year, The Times reported.
The allegations against Tyndall came to light earlier this month in response to a Los Angeles Times investigation that prompted USC President C.L. Max Nikias to release a statement outlining the university’s handling of complaints against Tyndall.
According to Nikias, the school’s Office of Equity and Diversity received a complaint about Tyndall in June 2016 and immediately launched an investigation — which included surveying 2,500 student patients — and placed Tyndall, now 71, on administrative leave. USC terminated the gynecologist’s employment in June 2017.
In addition to the racially and sexually inappropriate comments, medical assistants questioned Tyndall’s practice of digital insertion before using a speculum to conduct pelvic exams. While one expert consulted by the university said it could be considered an acceptable practice, an independent reviewer called the practice “outdated and not current standard of care,” according to a summary of the investigation.
Tyndall himself has defended his practice as appropriate, according to the university.
However, The Times reported complaints dating back to the 1990s, when co-workers alleged the doctor inappropriately photographed students’ genitals. The newspaper accused the school of ignoring repeated reports about Tyndall — reportedly the health center’s lone full-time gynecologist for nearly 30 years — until a frustrated nurse reported him to a campus rape center, leading to his suspension.
The university’s summary said photos found in the doctor’s office related to disease and abnormalities, did not identify patients, and could have been used for clinical reference.