Two young women gave graphic testimony Tuesday about examinations by USC’s former longtime campus gynecologist as a hearing began to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial on sex-related charges involving 21 former patients.
George Tyndall, now 74, is charged with 12 felony counts of sexual battery by fraud and 23 felony counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person — the latter of which alleges that the women were “unconscious of the nature of the act” and that it served “no professional purpose.”
Prosecutors allege the crimes occurred between 2009 and 2016 involving students ranging in age from 17 to 31 who went to USC’s student health center for annual examinations or other treatment while Tyndall was working there.
Tyndall has denied wrongdoing.
In March, attorneys representing hundreds of women who claim they were sexually abused by Tyndall announced an $852 million settlement of lawsuits against the university, describing the resolution as the largest of its type ever against a university.
In January 2020, a federal judge in Los Angeles granted final approval of a $215 million class-action settlement between USC and some of the women who claim they were sexually abused by Tyndall.
The settlement provides all class members — about 17,000 former patients who received women’s health services from Tyndall — compensation of $2,500 and up. Patients who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000.
The first two alleged victims called to the stand in Tyndall’s preliminary hearing testified that they will each receive civil settlements — one for $1.2 million and the other for about $1.6 million before her attorney’s cut of the settlement.
“I was embarrassed and horrified that this was happening,” one of the women told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler about her first examination by Tyndall in August 2014. “I was telling myself, `You’re just being sensitive … He’s a professional, he’s not going to be doing anything weird.”’
The woman, identified in court only as Jane Doe 14, testified that she made it to the center’s lobby before she started to cry and that it “felt wrong,” but that she was convinced it couldn’t be wrong because Tyndall was a medical professional.
She said that she had to make a return visit in June 2015 because she needed to renew her prescription for birth control and that Tyndall told her she needed a pelvic exam and a “well-woman” checkup that included a breast exam and a skin exam during which he told her she had “beautiful, creamy skin.”
“I think I made it home before crying,” she said of that visit with Tyndall, which she described as “worse” than the first appointment.
The woman — who said she had abnormal pap smear results — testified that she declined a pelvic examination during a December 2015 appointment with Tyndall because she felt it was “unnecessary to have one so quickly after the last.”
She said she didn’t recall the doctor ever wearing gloves during the examinations and reported what had happened to her after reading a Los Angeles Times article about Tyndall in spring 2018, saying it was like a “checklist down the line of things I’d also experienced.”
Another alleged victim, who was 20 at the time in 2016, described staring at the ceiling as Tyndall examined her without a chaperone and asked if she played any sports.
“I felt uncomfortable,” said the woman, who was identified in court only as Jane Doe 16. “It was really unpleasant.”
She said that she also came forward after reading the newspaper article about Tyndall.
“I don’t think I could sleep at night if I wasn’t saying something,” said the woman, who is now herself an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Tyndall was initially charged in June 2019 with alleged crimes involving 16 women, with prosecutors subsequently adding charges involving five other former patients in July 2020.
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.
USC officials had repeatedly denied allegations of a cover-up relating to Tyndall and have said that in response to the scandal, new protocols were implemented at its student health center to ensure any complaints are investigated and resolved by appropriate university officials and authorities. The university also said it has hired female, board-certified physicians and introduced patient education materials about sensitive examinations.
After the March 2021 settlement, USC President Carol Folt released a statement in which she said, “I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community. We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall.”
The judge is expected to hear more testimony Wednesday and Thursday from alleged victims, with the hearing then set to go on hiatus before resuming some time next year.