5 former USC students sue university over handling of school physician

Five former Los Angeles-based University of Southern California students filed two separate lawsuits against the university and former university gynecologist George Tyndall, MD, May 21.

Here are six things to know about the case.

1. One of the two lawsuits was filed by four former USC students, each seeking to remain anonymous and referred to as "Jane Doe" in the complaint. The lawsuit alleges Dr. Tyndall "used this position of trust and authority to sexually abuse [the] 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," according to the lawsuit, obtained by Becker's Hospital Review.

2. The second class-action lawsuit — obtained by Becker's — was filed by Lucy Chi against USC, Dr. Tyndall and the university's board of trustees. The complaint similarly alleges, "USC violated its female students' trust by knowingly putting women in the room for treatment by [Dr.] Tyndall, knowing that inappropriate physical contact and violations would occur. … USC nurses, chaperones and other staff members were regularly present in the examination rooms, observed the inappropriate sexual molestation, and took no steps to stop it as it occurred," the lawsuit states.

3. The law firm handling Ms. Chi's case also represents multiple women on behalf of a class of all victims who were harassed or otherwise assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.

4. According to The Los Angeles Times' investigation into Dr. Tyndall and USC published last week, the university began receiving complaints about Dr. Tyndall's alleged behavior in the early 1990s, but did not investigate the allegations against him until 2016. The institution forced him out in 2017 following the completion of its investigation.

5. However, USC failed to inform the Medical Board of California of the allegations against Dr. Tyndall, as required under state law, until The Los Angeles Times' investigation was published. Officials said they did not report the investigation's findings because they constituted a personnel matter and because USC has no legal obligation to notify the state oversight board of the accusations.

6. USC officials told The New York Times last week they have received more than 100 complaints regarding Dr. Tyndall since officials notified 350,000-plus students and alumni in an email May 15 of resources they can use to report abuse or complaints regarding Dr. Tyndall.

More articles on physician integration issues:
AAMC: DO school enrollment up 163% since 2002
USC allowed physician to treat students despite nearly 30 years of sexual harassment complaints
Bridging the gap between physicians and administrators

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