By Nathan Solis
The University of Southern California agreed Friday to pay $215 million to settle a federal class action on claims a former campus gynecologist sexually abused students over several years.
The plaintiffs claimed USC officials knew about the doctor’s behavior which amounted to sexual harassment and in many cases sexual abuse. The Los Angeles Times initially reported that multiple allegations against former USC gynecologist George Tyndall went unreported to his patients and he was allowed to resign from his post.
According to a statement from USC interim president Wanda Austin, the settlement provides compensation to all class members as well as all female patients who received health services from Tyndall.
All former patients will receive $2,500, while patients “who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000,” wrote Austin.
The university said it has made sweeping changes to “prevent all forms of misconduct on our campuses” and Austin said. “I regret that any student ever felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or mistreated in any way as a result of the actions of a university employee.”
Friday’s announcement comes one day after 250 women came forward to say the former USC gynecologist George Tyndall sexually harassed them, according to the university’s campus newspaper.
The settlement is only partial as multiple lawsuits continue through the state court.
Los Angeles police detectives said this past May the allegations against Tyndall stretched over a 26-year period. Former patients described conduct that went beyond the extent of a normal medical examination.
“Dr. Tyndall saw some 10,000 students, probably, over the course of his career that expanded from 1990 to 2016,” said Capt. Billy Hayes with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“We believe that with only 52 people coming forward at this point in time, that’s probably not an accurate representation of the people who saw him and the potential individuals that might have been victims,” Hayes said.
Hayes said some of the patients may have been under 18 when they were seen by Tyndall but could not provide an accurate estimate.
According to a lawsuit filed by four former patients in Los Angeles Superior Court this past May, Tyndall used “his position of trust and authority to sexually abuse plaintiffs on multiple occasions, by engaging in acts that include but are not limited to: forcing plaintiffs to strip naked; groping plaintiffs’ breasts, digitally penetrating plaintiffs’ vaginas, and spread open their anal crevice so he could leer at the crevice and anus, for no legitimate medical purpose and for no other reason than to satisfy his own prurient sexual desires.”
Shortly after, USC President C.L. Max Nikias stepped down amid an outcry from students and alumni over the lack of response from the administration.