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The University of Southern California (USC) has finalized a settlement for sexual abuse allegations over a student health center gynecologist, which will result in the payment of $215 million in compensation for former patients of Dr. George Tyndall, as well as implement a number of new policies designed to protect students in the future.
The USC gynecologist settlement was announced in a press statement by Interim President Wanda M. Austin on February 12, after details of the agreement were first disclosed in October. However, while the monetary amount of the compensation fund was previously rported, the policy changes the University agreed to put in place were not. The deal has now been finalized, and awaits approval in federal court.
The details of the settlement are described in full by a FAQ released by the university. It indicates that there will be three tiers of compensation:
- Tier 1 is a $2,500 pay out for any students treated for women’s health issues by Tyndall.
- Tier 2 will allow Tyndall’s former patients to seek from $7,500 to $20,000 by providing a written statement on his actions, the personal impact of those actions, and any injuries suffered.
- Tier 3 allows patients to seek from $7,500 to $250,000 if the former patients are willing to provide written statements as in Tier 2, as well as participate in a respectful, private interview by a licensed psychologist.
“I’m encouraged by today’s settlement filing, which takes another important step in healing our community,” Austin said in her statement. “Providing a fair and respectable resolution to as many former, impacted patients as possible, and making impactful changes that strengthen our university continues to be our top priorities.”
The new policies include the creation of an Office of Professionalism and Ethics and an Office of Ombuds Services to monitor and prevent misconduct. It also includes a policy of making female physicians available to all patients, giving students access to an Independent Women’s Health Advocate, among others. A new website lists and explains the USC policy changes in detail for students.
USC Sexual Assaults
Prior to the settlement, nearly 300 women filed sexual assault lawsuits against USC, and a number of class action claims were brought to pursue damages on behalf of all students treated by the former gynecologist at the student health center.
In May, 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 while working as a gynecologist in the university health clinic.
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 that Tyndall’s behavior was unacceptable, and should not have been tolerated for so long.
The pattern of USC student sexual abuse 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.