A judge Tuesday lowered former USC campus gynecologist George Tyndall’s bail from nearly $2.1 million to $1.6 million while he awaits a hearing to determine if he will have to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting 16 patients.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan noted that Tyndall — who is due back in a downtown courtroom Friday — will be confined to his home under GPS monitoring and barred from practicing medicine if he is able to post the reduced bail amount.
One of Tyndall’s attorneys, Leonard Levine, told the judge it is a “highly defensible case” and that Tyndall did not flee despite being aware for months that he was under investigation in connection with the allegations. He argued that his client is not a flight risk or a danger to the community, and asked that his bail be set between $350,000 and $400,000.
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller objected to the defense’s request, telling the judge many of the alleged victims were undergoing their first gynecological examinations and many were foreign students who were victimized in a “total breach of trust.”
The prosecutor said Tyndall had a loaded .38-caliber handgun in his pants pocket when he was stopped June 26 by Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Division officers after being seen driving out of the parking structure of his condominium, and that police also recovered pepper spray and a box cutter from the defendant.
In court papers objecting to the defense’s request for the bail reduction, the prosecutor wrote that a search of Tyndall’s storage unit turned up “multiple images” of “young females in clinic settings in compromising positions” and that hundreds of self-made sex videos were recovered — many of which “appear to be filmed in a hotel room(s) outside the U.S.” The prosecutor noted in the court filing that the defendant’s mailing address as of November 2018 is the same address for a business “operated by the defendant under which homemade sex videos involving young women, seemingly filmed in hotel rooms outside the U.S., were advertised to purchase for cash.”
One of the alleged victims, identified in court as Jane Doe No. 2, urged the judge not to lower bail for the 72-year-old doctor, whom she called a “predator.” The woman, who identified herself outside court to reporters as Lucy Chi, said she came to court to try to ensure justice was done and that she was disappointed by the judge’s decision to lower bail for the doctor she saw once as a patient in 2012.
“When I saw him, I felt terrified. My whole body froze and I still feel it right now,” she said after the court hearing. “But I’m not afraid to speak up for what I think is right and to speak up for the victims who are unable to speak up for themselves.”
In a statement read in court on behalf of another alleged victim, identified in court as Jane Doe No. 6, the woman said “the knowledge that he is out there would haunt me” if Tyndall was released on bail.
Audry Nafziger — who called herself an “uncharged victim” who saw Tyndall during a 1990 office visit and became a prosecutor with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office — told reporters the gynecologist has been “preying on women for 30 years” and that she felt there was “a little bit of justice today to see him” behind bars.
Tyndall, who has been accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients during his decades-long career at USC, complained of chest pains after being arrested outside his Mid-Wilshire apartment. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, but was moved into the county jail two days later.
Alleged victims have claimed they were inappropriately fondled or photographed by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams. Many also accused him of making sexually charged comments during the exams.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said last month that a dozen LAPD detectives have investigated assault allegations by more than 350 women and presented more than 130 potential cases to the District Attorney’s Office, raising the possibility of more charges being filed.
Tyndall could face a maximum of 53 years in state prison if convicted as charged.
USC officials said the university has been cooperating with the investigation.
Hundreds of former patients have sued Tyndall and USC, accusing the university of failing to respond to allegations of abuse by the campus gynecologist dating back decades.
On June 13, a federal judge in Los Angeles gave preliminary approval to a $215 million class-action settlement with some of the plaintiffs.
Hundreds of other women are still suing the university and Tyndall in state court. Attorneys for those alleged victims have criticized the federal class-action settlement, calling it inadequate.
The lawsuits contend 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 former patients allege 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 have denied any cover-up.
In an open letter to faculty and staff in May 2018, 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.”
In a letter sent to the USC community, Austin stressed that the university has “significantly strengthened operations and oversight at the Student Health Center,” including hiring more female physicians and implementing new protocols for investigating complaints.
Attorney John Manly, who represents about 200 alleged victims in civil lawsuits along with five of the alleged victims in the criminal case, called on District Attorney Jackie Lacey to recuse herself from the case. He told reporters he hopes the California Attorney General’s Office intervenes in Tyndall’s criminal case in light of what he called Lacey’s “connections” to USC. Manly also called for an investigation into USC, where Lacey attended law school.
“The District Attorney’s professional relationship with the university has no bearing on the decisions made by this office,” Shiara Davila-Morales of the District Attorney’s Office, said in a written statement.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents two of the alleged victims in the criminal case and 62 alleged victims in civil litigation, said she did not think it was helpful to criticize Lacey.
“I’m sure that the defense will, on many occasions, criticize the prosecution. But I don’t think we can separate the lead elected prosecutor and criticize her and not think that helps the defense, because the defense would like nothing better than to criticize the prosecution of this case. So I’m not going to join in that criticism of the lead prosecutor, whose decision it was that all of these charges should be filed,” Allred said. “If an outside agency or (the) Attorney General or anyone else chooses to investigate USC, I think that’s a positive. I think USC should be investigated.”
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