The University of Southern California (USC), its Board of Trustees, and George Tyndall, M.D. are the defendants in a proposed class action lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who alleges Tyndall took advantage of female students who sought gynecological examinations at the university’s student health center. The plaintiff alleges in the federally filed complaint that Tyndall “used his position of trust to place women in a place of complete vulnerability,” leading to “sexual abuse, molestation, and unwanted touching” not for the purposes of medical care, but for “sexual gratification.”
Per USC’s alleged hand in the matter, the 33-page complaint says the school knowingly allowed women to go to Tyndall for treatment, with USC nurses and chaperones “regularly” present for examinations while supposedly taking “no steps to stop [the inappropriate sexual molestation] as it occurred.” Further, the lawsuit charges that as supervisors and administrators became aware of Tyndall’s alleged conduct, USC chose not to remove the doctor from his position.
According to the lawsuit, Tyndall has been USC’s only full-time gynecologist since 1989. The suit says that after a few years into Tyndall’s tenure, chaperones/female nurses became perturbed by the supposed frequency with which the defendant utilized a camera during pelvic exams. This concern reportedly continued well into the 2000s, according to the suit, with chaperones becoming more alarmed after the opening of USC’s Engemann Student Health Center in 2013:
“Chaperones were concerned about ‘full body scans,’ where ‘Tyndall frequently had women lie naked on the exam table while he slowly inspected every part of their body, down to the area between their buttocks.’ While a woman’s annual gynecological visit might include a discussion of skin problems, such ‘meticulous’ inspections of a patient’s naked body ‘would be highly unusual if not inappropriate.’”
That same year, the suit goes on, eight chaperones reportedly voiced concerns about Tyndall’s alleged conduct to their supervisor, who then reportedly went up the ladder to the clinic’s executive director, who claimed she had spoken with Tyndall in the past about his alleged behavior. An investigation conducted thereafter by USC’s Office of Equity and Diversity in which seven employees and a patient were reportedly interviewed concluded “no violation of school policy” took place, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiff goes on to allege that in addition to taking a particular liking to students of Chinese ethnicity, Tyndall took steps to “require patients to return for appointments more often,” supposedly to great concern from chaperones.
After delving into a litany of patient complaints, the lawsuit gets into the results of an inquiry titled “Summary of Coordinated Investigation of Student Health Physician.” In its statement, which stemmed from a 2016 investigation brought on after the school’s Office of Equity and Diversity received a staff member complaint about alleged sexually inappropriate comments made to patients by Tyndall, USC admitted to receiving student complaints about Tyndall and speaking with medical assistants who questioned the defendant’s techniques during exams. The school also reportedly admitted that the complaints it received from students “were sufficient to terminate Tyndall” and should have been “elevated” to authorities for further investigation.
According to the lawsuit, USC made no mention in its report on its silence in reporting Tyndall to authorities.
“Ultimately, in 2017, the university began termination proceedings,” the complaint reads. “However, USC did not contact law enforcement, the attorney general or the medical licensing board. Nor did USC inform Tyndall’s patients. Because Tyndall threatened a lawsuit against USC, USC entered into a separation agreement with Tyndall.”