Federal civil rights investigators will hold a community meeting Wednesday on the USC campus to hear from current or former students, staff or faculty who have information about the university’s handling of sexual harassment reports against former school gynecologist George Tyndall.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating USC’s compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.
The OCR probe will assess USC’s response to reports and complaints of sexual harassment during pelvic exams performed by Tyndall as early as 1990 that were not fully investigated by the university until spring 2016 and that USC did not disclose to the civil rights office during an earlier investigation.
OCR staff will be on hand at USC from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Taper Hall of Humanities for the meeting and will also open office hours regarding the investigation. There will be an opportunity for questions and limited public testimony by pre-registered individuals with relevant information, according to the agency.
From 6:15 to 8 p.m., OCR will have 15-minute slots available for those who wish to speak privately with an OCR attorney during office hours.
To schedule an office hours appointment or to request to speak during the community meeting, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The community meeting will take place in room 201 at Taper Hall, and office hours will be held in rooms 207 and 217. Those who are unable to come to office hours while OCR is on campus or who would like to make other arrangements to provide information should call OCR at (415) 486-5555 or send an email to email@example.com.
According to USC, Tyndall resigned in June 2017 based on a finding by the university that his behavior during pelvic exams was outside the scope of current medical standards and that he violated the university’s policy on harassment by making repeated sexually inappropriate remarks during patient encounters.
Tyndall has been accused by hundreds of former patients of inappropriate sexual behavior during exams. He and the university have been sued by hundreds of alleged victims, many of whom claim they were inappropriately fondled or photographed by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams. Many have also accused him of making sexually charged comments during the exams.
Alleged victims have contended that the university received numerous complaints of Tyndall’s alleged sexually abusive behavior, dating back to at least 1988, and actively and deliberately concealed his actions. Attorneys for some victims have argued that following an internal investigation of complaints against Tyndall in 2016, the university paid him a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign.
USC officials have denied any coverup, and Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing.
In an open letter to faculty and staff in May, USC Provost Michael Quick said top administrators did not know about the complaints until 2016.
“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. “We would never knowingly put students in harm’s way.”
USC established a hotline for complaints about Tyndall and has offered free counseling to his former patients.