Southern California

Police Investigate 52 Claims of Sex Assault Against USC Gynecologist

Police are urging anyone who believes they have been victimized to contact the department

What to Know

  • 13 lawsuits filed against USC, doctor as students accuse ex-campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall of molesting patients
  • USC President C. L. Max Nikias agrees to step down
  • Nikias apologized in writing to women who claim they were abused by Tyndall

Police are investigating misconduct allegations made by 52 former patients of a USC gynecologist, with the complaints spanning from 1990 to 2016, roughly his entire tenure at the university, officials said Tuesday.

LAPD Capt. William Hayes said 39 of the cases were referred to the department from a USC hotline set up for people to call and report concerns about Dr. George Tyndall. The other cases involve people who contacted police directly, he said.

Police said the department is working closely with the District Attorney's Office as they review cases to determine if any of them warrant consideration of criminal charges.

Tyndall resigned last year. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that he was the subject of complaints dating back to the 1990s, with patients complaining about sexually charged comments, inappropriate touching of patients and taking photographs of women he was examining. Despite the complaints, Tyndall was allowed to continue working at the USC Student Health Center and continued examining patients.

Tyndall was removed from the clinic only after a nurse reported him to the rape crisis center, according to former patients and staffers interviewed by The Times. An internal university investigation last year concluded that his pelvic exams were outside the scope of current medical practice and amounted to sexual harassment of students.

In interviews with The Times, the 71-year-old physician defended his medical exams as thorough and appropriate, and said some of his comments to patients were misinterpreted. And in a letter to the newspaper dated May 17 but received Thursday, Tyndall said he had heard of only one patient complaint before March 2016, an allegation that he did not wear gloves during a pelvic exam, which he denies. An Irvine-based law firm that had already filed several suits announced the filing of three more cases Tuesday, including one by a woman who claims she was abused by Tyndall in 1988 while working as a research assistant at USC Medical Center.

USC President Max Nikias agreed to step down Friday. 

John Manly, an attorney for the victims, said in a statement that the resignation is "the first step in a long process of healing for the victims of Dr. Tyndall."

"It occurred because students faculty and alumni pressured Board of Trustees to do the right thing," the statement said. "It is our hope that their pressure will continue until the University reforms the culture which has enabled sexual abuse and holds all of the enablers accountable so this will never happen again."

In the latest filing, "Jane Doe 11" says she had filed written complaints against Tyndall and submitted them to the school back in 1988, and said she was ignored.

"Jane Doe 11" said she had two exams conducted by Tyndall as part of an experimental study. She said he forced her to "strip completely naked with her breasts fully exposed throughout the entire examination, shoving his ungloved fingers into (her) vagina."

"I left feeling as though I had been molested and mistreated during my exams," she said in a complaint she alleges was submitted to the university.

Police are urging anyone who believes they have been victimized to contact the department's Special Assault Section at (213) 486-6910.

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