USC announced Friday the university has agreed in principle to a $215 million class-action settlement with women who claim they were sexually abused by Dr. George Tyndall, the former campus gynecologist who was been accused of misconduct by scores of ex-patients.
“Our Board of Trustees supports this settlement, which was reached in collaboration with plaintiffs’ counsel, and which will provide relief to those who have been impacted by this difficult experience,” USC Interim President Wanda Austin said in a prepared statement. “By doing so, we hope that we can help our community move collectively toward reconciliation. I regret that any student ever felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or mistreated in any way as a result of the actions of a university employee.”
The settlement provides all class members — former patients who received women’s health services from Tyndall — compensation of $2,500. Patients who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000.
“Following the expected court approval, all class members will be sent a notice of their options under the settlement in the coming months,” Austin said.
Tyndall and USC 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.
“A fair and respectful resolution for as many former patients as possible has been a priority for the university and for me personally since I began serving in the role of interim president,” Austin said. “Many sweeping changes have been made and we continue to work every day to prevent all forms of misconduct on our campuses, to provide outstanding care to all students.
“Today’s announcement is an important step forward, but it is only the beginning of our journey. We care deeply about our community, we are listening carefully, learning from these experiences and strengthening our university.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposed settlement covers only a federal class-action case, but will not resolve hundreds of state court cases. According to the paper, a total of 463 women have sued the university over the Tyndall allegations.
Attorneys representing women who say they were sexually abused by Tyndall announced Thursday the filing of 93 more lawsuits accusing the university of ignoring complaints about the now-former campus doctor for years.
The attorneys, joined by more than a dozen alleged victims of Tyndall, also called on the state Attorney General’s Office to conduct an investigation into the university’s handling of complaints about the doctor’s conduct.
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 Tyndall’s actions. Attorneys for some victims have argued that following an internal investigation of complaints against Tyndall in 2016, the university paid Tyndall a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign last year.
“We call on Attorney General Xavier Becerra to commence a serious investigation of USC — not George Tyndall, because the (Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office) is handling that — but USC,” attorney John Manly said at a downtown Los Angeles news conference.
“The University of Southern California, my alma mater, is the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars of state of California aid, and it is clear they miserably failed these women,” he said.
USC officials have denied any coverup, and Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing.
USC officials issued a statement in response to the latest legal actions, saying, “We are aware of the lawsuits. We will be seeking a prompt and fair resolution that is respectful of our former students. We are committed to providing the women of USC with the best, most thorough and respectful health care services of any university.”
The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing allegations against Tyndall, but so far he has not been charged with a crime. He has insisted that he never did anything wrong, and all of his actions during exams were within the standards of medical care.