– Complaint alleges University covered up gynecologist’s serial sexual abuse and harassment of female students during 28-year tenure –
Trial law firms McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP and Becker Law Group filed a lawsuit against University of Southern California (USC), Engemann Student Health Center, Keck Medicine of USC, George Tyndall, M.D. and related parties on behalf of three former USC students who were allegedly victims of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and harassment while gynecological patients of Tyndall. According to the lawsuit, USC concealed numerous complaints about Tyndall’s sexual misconduct lodged by female students, as well as by Student Health Center nurses and medical assistants, dating back to at least 1990. Rather than addressing and properly investigating the complaints, USC continued to employ Tyndall as the only gynecologist available to students and kept the complaints secret to avoid negative publicity. This active concealment of Tyndall’s sexually abusive behavior deceived the plaintiffs into believing that his sexual assaults were legitimate medical treatment.
“USC had a duty to provide a safe Student Health Center where its students could obtain necessary medical treatment, and yet even after multiple complaints, knowingly covered up the fact that it employed an alleged sexual predator,” said Patrick McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas. LLP. “The University failed to take appropriate actions to protect the plaintiffs, and now they are forced to live with the physical and mental suffering Tyndall’s sexual abuse inflicted upon them.
“It is outrageous and saddening that USC allowed Tyndall unfettered sexual access to its young female students for nearly thirty years in order to preserve their public image,” said Todd Becker, Partner at Becker Law Group.
Tyndall was retained by USC as the only full-time Gynecological Physician at USC’s Student Health Center to provide medical care and treatment to the women attending the university, most of whom were young adults and many of whom had never received any gynecological treatment before.
The three plaintiffs attended USC during the mid 2010s to late 2010s and Tyndall was the first ever gynecologist that each had visited during their time in the United States, therefore, they did not know of the typical gynecological exams and procedures administered in this country. The lawsuit asserts that Tyndall assured the plaintiffs that his sexual assaults and misconduct served legitimate medical purposes. Thus, the plaintiffs were under the impression that Tyndall’s conduct was a legitimate medical procedure, although it was only done for his own sexual gratification.
During his years of sexual misconduct, it’s alleged that Tyndall sought out foreign USC students, specifically Chinese USC students, because they were unaware of the typical standards and techniques uses by American gynecologists. USC even held sales-like pitches to potential Chinese students stating that the University facilitated an atmosphere of safety, including their Student Health Center. Further, USC charged Chinese students extra money to receive health insurance so that they could be treated by the Student Health Center. It is alleged that USC actively hid their knowledge of Tyndall’s behavior because it directly conflicted with the sales pitch USC would use to attract foreign students.
USC received numerous complaints of serious misconduct, including sexual misconduct, by Tyndall starting no later than 1990, and possibly earlier. Complaints were made to Tyndall’s supervisors and other administrators employed by USC, including the executive director of the Student Health Center and other University officials, but no action was taken.
Many of these complaints included, but are not limited to, Tyndall requiring the women to lie fully nude on the table during his “exams” as he proceeded to make inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments about patients’ bodies, touching their bodies and genitals, and taking photographs of their genital region, all with no medical purpose. Tyndall even labeled some of the photos of his patients’ genitalia with their names and kept them in his office. It is also alleged that Tyndall would often require patients to submit to a pelvic examination when such an exam was not needed and would incorrectly inform clients that the speculum (an instrument used for pap smears) would not be effective or would hurt and that it would be better if he used his fingers.
In June 2016, a nurse from the Student Health Center reported Tyndall’s sexual misconduct to the campus crisis rape center. Only then did USC conduct a meaningful investigation into Tyndall’s prior sexual misconduct. As part of the investigation, USC reviewed files that had been maintained for many years prior to June 2016, which contained numerous complaints regarding Tyndall and his sexual misconduct with patients. On June 30, 2017, USC allowed Tyndall to quietly resign with a financial settlement paid by the University in a deliberate attempt to continue to conceal his sexual abuse.
When USC learned that Los Angeles Times had launched an investigation into complaints against Tyndall, they finally released a written statement in May 2018 admitting that they were aware of numerous complaints about Tyndall’s misconduct dating back to 2000, and that the complaints were “concerning enough that it is not clear today why [USC] permitted Tyndall to remain in his position.”