Ex-doctor at Southern Cal arrested in sex abuse case

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office said that Tyndall faces charges of sexually assaulting 16 young women who had gone to the university’s health center for annual exams or other treatment between 2009 and 2016.

Ex-doctor at Southern Cal arrested in sex abuse case

LOS ANGELES — A former University of Southern California doctor accused of sexual misconduct involving hundreds of patients was arrested Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed.

Hundreds of women said that Dr. George Tyndall, who was the longtime head gynecologist of the university’s health center, sexually abused them and that school officials did not adequately address their concerns.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office said that Tyndall faces charges of sexually assaulting 16 young women who had gone to the university’s health center for annual exams or other treatment between 2009 and 2016.

The women, the office said, were between 17 and 29 years old at the time of the alleged incidents.

Tyndall was charged with 29 total counts of sexual penetration and sexual battery by fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 53 years in prison.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the Los Angeles district attorney, Jackie Lacey, said that based on the volume of claims, “more charges are likely.”

Michel Moore, the Los Angeles police chief, said his department had assigned 12 full-time detectives to the case for roughly a year. They had traveled to more than 16 states for interviews, he said, and spoken to more than 350 women. Those numbers, he said, hinted at the sheer scope of the investigation.

Moore said Tyndall had been arrested outside his home in Los Angeles but complained of chest pains and so had not yet been booked into jail.

Tyndall’s lawyers, Leonard Levine and Andrew Flier, said in a statement Wednesday that their client expected to be “totally exonerated” and that he looked forward to his case being tried in a court of law “after years of being tried in the press.”

The university made the abuse allegations public only after they were first reported by the Los Angeles Times last year.

The administration’s handling of complaints about Tyndall’s behavior provoked outrage from students and alumni already reeling from other reports by the Los Angeles Times that the former dean of the medical school had used drugs on campus and partied with criminals.

Medical staff had complained for decades that Tyndall had inappropriately touched students. In 2016, an internal investigation by the university concluded that his pelvic exams may have been inappropriate. The investigation also found that he had repeatedly made sexual and racially offensive remarks to students.

Still, Tyndall was allowed to retire under a separation agreement with a payout in 2017. And the university did not immediately report its findings to the state medical board.

In the aftermath of the scandal, faculty and alumni successfully demanded the resignation of the university’s president at the time, C.L. Max Nikias.

Independent of criminal investigations by police, dozens of women sued USC and Tyndall.

Earlier this month, a judge gave preliminary approval to a $215 million settlement in a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of women who say they were abused by Tyndall.

Under the terms of that agreement, survivors would be eligible for payments ranging from $2,500 to $250,000, depending on the severity of their alleged abuse and whether they would be willing to talk confidentially about their experiences.

Lawyers who helped negotiate the settlement said it would also force the university to take steps aimed at preventing misconduct in the future, such as requiring chaperones in examinations.

This settlement gives every single woman who saw Tyndall a choice in how they want to participate and hold USC accountable,” Annika Martin, who was the co-lead class counsel in the settlement, said in a statement at the time.

Still, hundreds of women have sued the university separately in state court, saying that the settlement is not enough.

Dana Loewy — who was a USC graduate student in 1993 when, she said, she had an inappropriate examination by Tyndall — was one of them.

Loewy said she was happy that Tyndall could “be put away now.” But she also hoped it wasn’t the end of the reckoning.

“I think USC should be held accountable, too,” she said.

Nevertheless, lawyers representing women in both the federal settlement and in individual lawsuits said they were pleased about the arrest.

“This arrest has been a long time coming — for a while there we weren’t quite sure,” said David Ring, a lawyer whose firm is representing 40 women in individual cases. “Now it’s crystal clear the LAPD has been working hard behind the scenes getting a case together.”

In a statement, USC’s interim president, Wanda Austin, said the university was waiting for more information on Tyndall’s arrest but had cooperated with authorities throughout their investigation.

“We care deeply about our community, and our top priority continues to be the well-being of our students, health center patients and university community,” she said. “We hope this arrest will be a healing step for former patients and our entire university.”

Although Tyndall’s medical license has been temporarily suspended, it has not been revoked, according to the Medical Board of California’s website.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulselive.co.ke