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The University of Southern California (USC) faces a growing number of individual and class action lawsuits over allegations of sexual abuse by a gynecologist at the school health clinic, Dr. George Tyndall.
The latest class action lawsuit (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on June 8, by former undergraduate student Shannon O’Conner. The complaint names Tyndall, as well as the University of Southern California and its board of trustees, as defendants, indicating that the school failed to protect students from the predatory gynecologist.
O’Conner indicates that she was one of many women who were sexually assaulted by Tyndall when she went to him to have a gynecological exam. However, of all the reports of sexual assault linked to Tyndall so far, O’Conner’s complaint is one of the most egregious and disturbing.
In the spring of 1993, O’Conner reports that she went into the office and she was told to strip, put on a gown, and lie down with her legs in the elevated stirrups. The lawsuit indicates that Tyndall then began to sexually assault her.
“He immediately began thrusting his fingers inside her vagina and moving them in and out rapidly. She reacted by pulling her hips back, but Tyndall grabbed her hip with one hand and forcibly pressed it down to the exam table while continuing the in-and-out motion with the fingers from his other hand,” the lawsuit states. “Tyndall then asked Ms. O’Conner if she had a boyfriend. She responded that she did. Tyndall then said that Ms. O’Conner’s boyfriend must love her vagina.”
During this entire incident, the lawsuit indicates that Tyndall’s hand was ungloved and he was trying to hook his fingers upward to sexually stimulate her. However, after the exam was over, O’Conner’s complaints were dismissed by other staff members.
“She approached the female receptionist at the front desk and told her that the doctor had said sexual things to her and that the exam didn’t feel right,” the lawsuit states. “The receptionist replied that Ms. O’Conner was a pretty girl and should get used to stuff like that.”
The lawsuit indicates that there was a chaperone in the room during the examination, who said nothing during the event. That led O’Conner to believe that while she was disturbed by the event, it must have been okay, because the other woman in the room would have surely said something. She never returned to the clinic and indicates that she now avoids being examined by male gynecologists.
It was not until the university recently revealed its investigation into Tyndall, and admitted the University should have taken steps to act sooner, that O’Conner realized she was one of many victims.
USC Sexual Abuse Litigation
The case is one of a growing number of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against Tyndall, USC and its board of trustees. This latest complaint seeks class action status for all women who were examined by Tyndall during his 30 years at the university.
Late last month, USC President C. L. Max Nikias agreed to resign just days after he sent a letter to students and staff announcing the results of an investigation into allegations that Tyndall engaged in inappropriate behavior with USC students.
Tyndall was allowed to retire in June 2017, and to date faces no criminal charges, despite dozens of claims that he assaulted female patients, and made both sexually suggestive and racist comments for years.
While USC indicated that it could find no evidence of criminal conduct, the University acknowledged in the statement last month that Dr. Tyndall’s behavior was unacceptable, and should not have been tolerated for so long.
Tyndall’s behavior was only addressed by the university after a nurse, frustrated with the lack of response to numerous complaints, took the issue to the campus’s rape crisis center. That led to an investigation of Tyndall, along with a suspension of his duties, and eventually a deal between Tyndall and USC that culminated in his retirement.
The University only reported his activities to the California Medical Board in March, after Tyndall contacted USC indicating that he wanted his job back. However, the complaints date back to the early 2000’s.
While the Los Angeles Police Department has been contacted about the incident by the university and attorneys representing some of his alleged victims, no criminal charges have yet been filed.