USC to pay $1.1B settlement over physician sex abuse scandal

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The University of Southern California in Los Angeles agreed to pay $1.1 billion to hundreds of patients who filed class-action lawsuits accusing a former student health gynecologist of repeated sexual abuse, according to The New York Times.

The billion-dollar payout, the combination of three sets of settlements, sets a record for collegiate sex abuse payouts, according to the report. 

The Los Angeles Superior Court approved the largest settlement March 25, requiring USC to pay $852 million to 710 women who filed a class-action suit against the university and George Tyndall, MD. The settlement amount also includes a $215 million settlement reached in 2019.

USC said the settlement reached March 25 "marks the end of a painful and ugly chapter in the history of our university." 

"I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community," USC President Carol Folt, PhD, said. "We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall."

Dr. Tyndall served as USC's only full-time gynecologist at its student health clinic from 1989 to 2016. Prosecutors say he abused his position of power and trust by subjecting his female patients to both physical and verbal abuse. 

USC suspended Dr. Tyndall from his role in 2016. In 2017, he was forced out of USC. The university allegedly received reports of sexual harassment by Dr. Tyndall dating to the 1990s but didn't report them to the Medical Board of California until 2018, when approached by the Los Angeles Times regarding an investigative report about the scandal. 

In 2018, an investigation was launched into the conduct of Dr. Tyndall and the university's handling of the sexual assault allegations. Following the investigation, Dr. Tyndall was arrested and charged with 29 counts of sexual assault, and in 2020, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights found USC mishandled reports of the allegations. 

Dr. Tyndall, who now faces 35 counts of criminal sexual misconduct, pleaded not guilty to the charges and awaits trial, according to the Times. 

The scandal forced then-USC President C.L. Max Nikias, PhD, to resign in 2018.

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