The University of Southern California is in legal hot water this week after being hit with several sex crime lawsuits alleging it did not adequately address complaints about a university gynecologist who was accused of sexually abusing female students for decades.
The USC civil lawsuits contain numerous, disturbing allegations of sexual molestation and sexual battery and sexual abuse against George Tyndall, MD, who was accused of racial discrimination and harassment.
One of the claims was that he inserted his entire ungloved fist into a woman’s vagina while making demeaning statements about her genitals. There were many other allegations of unwanted sexual touching.
During one examination, it is alleged that Tyndall sexually violated a graduate student while a female nurse was waiting in the corridor. He claimed later that the student had given him authorization to proceed. This made it sound like the violation of standard of care and protocol was the student’s fault.
That student, Lucy Chi, is suing the university, the board of trustees and Tyndall as a portion of a class action lawsuit filed this week in US District Court for the Central District of California. Five other women have filed civil suits in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Lawyers from the consumer rights class action law firm Hagens Berman will represent Chi and a class of hundreds if not thousands of female current and former students at USC who received a medical examination from the doctor and who allegedly abused them.
The complaint states the doctor’s illegal behavior was covered up by USC for decades and that the university violated its female students by putting women in the treatment room with a sexual predator. The complaint notes that USC nurses, chaperones and other staff were often present in the examination rooms and knew sexual molestation was occurring and yet did not try to stop it.
Chi stated in the complaint she was inappropriately touched by the doctor in 2012 during her annual physical at the student health center. The gynecologist is alleged to have penetrated her with his fingers and said he wanted to see if the speculum would fit. He then is alleged to have done a breast exam with bare hands and with no sheet covering so that he could see the woman’s entire upper body.
It is also alleged that he squeezed her breasts and fondled her in a sexual way, making Chi feel violated and embarrassed. The woman did not return to Tyndall for follow up care.
Other lawsuits against the doctor filed this week against the doctor and USC have similar accusations made from five other former students. Four women are suing collectively and another has filed a separate lawsuit. The group is being legally represented by John Manly, an Orange County CA lawyer who obtained a $500 million settlement in the Larry Nassar case in Michigan last week.
The complaint states that it intends to vindicate the rights of four women who suffered sexual abuse and were molested and harassed by a sexual predator. It states that while they were attending USC, the plaintiffs were forced to see Tyndall for medical treatment as he was the only gynecologist on staff at the student health clinic.
The group’s lawsuit states that Tyndall used his medical position to sexual abuse the women on several occasions by engaging in illegal sexual acts that included forcing the women to strip naked; groping their breasts; penetrating the plaintiffs’ vaginas with bare fingers; and spreading open their anal crevice so he could look at the anus and crevice, and for no medical purpose other than to satisfy his own sexual needs.
The fifth woman in her own lawsuit said the doctor also allegedly acted in the same way with her. She says in her suit that he commented how tight her genital muscles were while inserting his fingers in her. She told her attorney later that she did not think there was a medical reason for the doctor to do that.
Both cases will argue that the statute of limitations of two years is not applicable to Tyndall because the alleged victims did not know they were being sexually abused at the time. One of the attorneys on the case said that most of the patients did not understand they were being sexually abused until very recently.
The doctor’s alleged conduct first came to light in two Los Angeles Times stories last week that had interviews from a dozen ex-students at USC. Several woman who are suing USC said they had no idea they were sexually abused until they saw what other victims told the newspaper.
Chi’s attorney said she read about Tyndall’s illegal actions and she became very upset and angry that USC allowed him to violate her and other women for so long.
The lawsuit that was filed Monday brings a number of charges against USC, Tyndall and its board of trustees. These include violations of Title IX, violations of the CA Equity in Higher Education Act, gross negligence, gender violence, sexual assault and civil battery.