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With a growing number of USC students pursuing lawsuits over sexual assaults by a University gynecologist, and mounting pressure from multiple parties, University of Southern California (USC) President C.L. Max Nikias has agreed to resign amid questions about how the abuse and misconduct was allowed to continue for so long.
The school announced that Nikias was stepping down in a May 25 press release, 10 days after he sent a letter to students and staff announcing the results of an investigation into allegations that Dr. George Tyndall, a former gynecologist in the student health center, engaged in inappropriate behavior.
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 earlier this month that Dr. Tyndall’s behavior was unacceptable, and should not have been tolerated for so long.
According to allegations raised in a growing number of USC student lawsuits, the University knew or should have known about Tyndall’s behavior, based on numerous reports and complaints over the last two decades, and failed to protect patients from a sexual predator.
Nikias’ resignation came following a 24-0 vote by a USC faculty organization indicating that he should step down; a letter from 200 professors calling for his resignation, and an online petition filed by about 4,000 faculty and students.
“We appreciate the voices of the many members of the university community who have expressed indignation from the harm inflicted on our students by Dr. Tyndall. As a father of USC students, an alumnus, and a member of the USC community, I share your outrage and understand the frustration and anger regarding the situation with the former physician,” Rick J. Caruso, chairman of the USC Board of Trustees’ subcommittee of the Executive Committee, said in the press release. “We have heard the message that something is broken and that urgent and profound actions are needed.”
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.
Many of the women report that Tyndall digitally penetrated them without medical gloves, and commented on their sex lives and their genitals in an inappropriate manner. Some also said he had a tendency to make sexist and racist comments.
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.