Startling accounts of sexual abuse at USC were made public this week as the campus gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, has been accused of sexual abuse spanning nearly three decades.
A survivor’s lawsuit was filed on May 21, 2018 in the Los Angeles Superior Court. In it, four plaintiff’s under the guise of “Jane Doe” allege that Tyndall engaged in sexually abusive and inappropriate conduct with female patients.
Among the details of the complaints filed against Tyndall were that of requiring patients to strip naked for routine exams, groping breasts, body parts, and performing vaginal penetration without medical justification. Furthermore, they allege he performed these duties without surgical gloves to protect against infection.
Being the only full-time gynecologist at the USC Student Health Center, further investigation has revealed the university received multiple complaints about his conduct beginning in the 1990s.
Coworkers complained he improperly photographed student genitalia and that he participated in “creepy” behavior that made them feel uncomfortable.
In a groundbreaking Los Angeles Times article released two days ago, accounts from a handful of women brave enough to speak their truth revealed disturbing behavior not only about Tyndell but the lack of response from campus officials.
Alexis Rodriguez recounted her complaint about Tyndell from 1995. After being labeled “difficult” by Tyndell in her chart for objecting to a vaginal abscess being removed without anesthetic, Rodriguez filed a complaint with the school about his unprofessional behavior. She cited a Playboy magazine being visible on his desk as well, which would strike many female patients as inappropriate. The school removed the label from her chart but didn’t remove Tyndell. “They missed an opportunity to save a lot of other women from his mistreatment,” she said.
Outside attorney’s have been asked to conduct an investigation, according the the USC Board of Trustees, who have been under mounting pressure to take swifter action. The inquiry will look into the “reporting failures” of the health center that allowed this kind of behavior to continue with impunity.
USC never reported Tyndell’s conduct with the Medical Board of California nor were law enforcement ever contacted, a requirement once health care providers are made aware of possible sexual assault encounters.
Dr. George Tyndall, 71, began working at USC in 1989 and only a handful of years later earned the reputation among students as someone to be avoided. One alumna, according the the Times report (whose name was asked to remain anonymous) indicated she cautioned women to ask for a nurse practitioner when visiting Tyndall, or to ask for another student to accompany them to the appointment due to his questionable behavior.
Anita Thornton, an on-campus medical assistant, complained to the health clinic administrative staff about Tyndell taking photographs of patients. Tyndell apparently had three cameras in his office, one of which was professional quality he kept locked in a cabinet. The administration said they would look into it but nothing ever happened.
From staff members to students, those who filed complaints against Tyndell were hopeful their complaints would serve to better the campus community and help students feel safe. The university administration who reviewed the cases obviously did nothing to remedy the dire situation and instead subjected hundreds of women to Tyndell’s abusive behaviors which are now coming to light by the hundreds.
So far, nearly 300 people have contacted USC about their encounters with George Tyndall. The LAPD sex crimes detectives of the Robbery-Homicide Division will be conducting an investigation into those calls.
In an op-ed in response to the initial LA Times article, Cate Guggino, a former USC student and victim of Tyndall’s wrote, “I want the other women violated by Tyndall at USC to know they were not confused. Tyndall used his position as a doctor and his knowledge of what could be considered normal in an exam to exploit women.”
Manly, Stewart & Finaldi and The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP of Southern California, alongside the Nationally recognized sexual abuse law firm Schmidt & Clark, LLP of Washington D.C., are at the helm of seeking legal justice for victims of the abuse. They expect scores of additional victims will bravely come forward as the case continues to unfold.