A former patient testified Thursday that a then-USC campus gynecologist took photographs of her during an examination, saying he told her it was for “medical research.”
The testimony from the woman — referred to as only “Jane Doe #11 — came during the third day of a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require George Tyndall, now 74, to stand trial on sex-related charges involving 21 former patients.
Tyndall 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.
“I believed that it was for medical research,” the young woman said of the seven to eight photos she believes Tyndall took during the Oct. 31, 2012, appointment. “He didn’t ask my consent. He said the photos are for medical research.”
The woman said she hasn’t been shown any of the photos.
Tyndall’s former patient told Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler that there was not a chaperone in the room when the photos were taken and that she felt uncomfortable with Tyndall, whom she said was “staring at me.”
“I felt violated, but then I also was questioning myself because it was my first pap smear,” she said of her first visit to a gynecologist as an 18-year-old who wanted to discuss birth control.
She noted that she expressed her concern afterward about the exam to a nurse whom she said was “dismissive and immediately reassured me that everything was normal,” and said that she subsequently sent an email to someone at the student health center because she was concerned about the “inappropriate, unprofessional discussions” he had with her, including his remarks about Asian women.
“I felt it was wrong. I felt it was something I needed to report,” the young woman said, noting that she didn’t believe she ever received a response to her message.
The woman, who grew emotional and wiped her eyes during portions of her testimony, said that her general practitioner at the student health center also was quick to be dismissive about her concerns when she brought up the issue. She said any subsequent appointments with Tyndall were only to renew her prescription for birth control.
She said a Los Angeles Times article about the allegations against Tyndall confirmed that “it wasn’t only me.”
“Well, it confirmed that it wasn’t all in my head and there were other victims,” she said, adding that she subsequently filed a police report because “it’s the right thing to do.”
The woman said she was awarded $1.5 million under a civil settlement with USC.
She is one of four former patients of Tyndall who have testified since the hearing got underway Tuesday, with each confirming that they will receive money under the civil settlement.
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.
That 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.
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.”
Attorneys are due back in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom Jan. 7 for a status conference to determine when the hearing will resume.
Tyndall could face up to 64 years in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.