LOS ANGELES (CN) --- The University of Southern California will pay $852 million to over 700 women who were allegedly sexually abused by former campus gynecologist George Tyndall as revealed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
From 1989 through 2016, Tyndall worked at a USC campus health center where he allegedly assaulted thousands of women who went to him for gynecological exams. The scope of the alleged abuses came to light in May 2018 after a Los Angeles Times report where some of the first victims shared their experiences. They claimed Tyndall targeted students, took pictures of their genitals and who went unchallenged for years by campus administrators.
In total, USC will pay $1.1 billion to the women. In January 2020, the university agreed to settle a class action lawsuit in federal court for $215 million. The global settlement announced Thursday in state court was not part of that class action.
For years, women visited Tyndall at the campus health center near downtown LA. The youngest was 17 years old and the oldest was in her 40s, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs. Tyndall was charged with dozens of sexual assault charges in June 2019 and is currently awaiting trial.
Allison Rowland received a gynecological exam from Tyndall 25 years ago where she says she was sexually assaulted during an exam that left her shaken up. According to court documents revealed by the womens’ legal team, USC was aware of complaints against Tyndall at the time.
Years later, claims against Tyndall and a possible coverup by the university gained national headlines.
“USC had this vicious indifference to their students’ health and safety,” said Rowland at a press conference after the global settlement was announced. “It turns out I wasn’t just another piece of meat for Tyndall. I was also a piece of meat for USC.”
Attorney John Manly with Manly Stewart Finaldi said there were generations of women who make up the survivors. Manly said that makes up thousands of women.
“Worst, I want this to be clear, USC and senior administrators in the health center and otherwise, knew,” said Manly.
Manly represented 200 survivors in the sexual abuse case against USA Gymnastics and former national team doctor Larry Nassar. Former Michigan State University dean William Strampel oversaw Nassar’s work at the school and was charged with neglect of duty in 2019. Manly said the scandal at USC went unnoticed for years, because Tyndall was enabled by the administration.
“The fact that no one has looked into this and not investigated the criminal culpability just goes to show other predators that you get a green light and they will ignore it,” Manly told Courthouse News.
Lucy Chi says she was assaulted by Tyndall in 2012 and blames former LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey for not filing charges against Tyndall or university administrators for criminal negligence.
Chi said Tyndall paid special attention to her and other Asian students. She called on recently nominated California Attorney General Rob Bonta and current LA DA George Gascón to investigate the university.
USC President Carol Folt apologized in a statement.
"I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community,” said Folt. “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."
“There’s plenty of criminal blame to go around,” said senior deputy district attorney Audry Nafziger from Ventura County who was just a USC student in 1990 when she visited Tyndall’s office for a medical exam.
She describes how Tyndall lied to her and said she had a sexually transmitted infection and took pictures of her. Those lies and shame followed her for years. Years later, she saw reports of the scandal unfolding at her alma mater.
“I got to realize that I was part of the largest sexual predator case in modern era,” said Nafziger. “It was a very sobering moment to know that that man had his hands all over me.”
She also asked for further investigations into the university’s handling of complaints filed against Tyndall over the years.
“But there are others who need to have their day in court and that will bring full justice and accountability to the Trojan family and send a message far and wide. You can’t buy your way out of justice. Justice is coming for you.”
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