LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Amid growing accusations that it tried to sweep sexual abuse allegations against one of the doctors in its student health center under the rug, the University of Southern California is now apologizing.
Earlier this week, the LA Times reported that the school health center’s former gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall had been under investigation by USC for nearly two years for making racist and sexually inappropriate remarks in front of patients and staff. More serious allegations of improper pelvic exams also emerged.
On Friday, the Times said about 200 more patients had come forward with complaints against Tyndall, who had served as the Engemann Student Health Center’s only full-time gynecologist for nearly 30 years. The paper said some of those cases would soon be forwarded to the Los Angeles Police Dept.
In addition to the accusations that Tyndall used racist and sexually inappropriate remarks, former colleagues had questioned his methods of pelvic exams, specifically, his practice of digital insertion before using a speculum.
In the wake of the allegations, USC President Max Nikias sent the following statement to the campus community:
“The former physician’s behavior distresses us deeply. He should have been removed and referred to the authorities years ago. I am struggling with the question, as you are: How could this behavior have gone on for so long? Once again, I want to personally apologize to any student who visited or student health center and was made to feel uncomfortable in any way. You deserved better, and we let you down.”
Nikias learned of the complaints against the doctor last fall, months after his resignation prompted by a 2016 claim against him by a nurse supervisor, the paper said. The Times said USC had placed Tyndall on administrative leave for nearly a year before it reached “a secret deal with Tyndall last summer that allowed him to resign with a financial payout.”
Students who spoke to CBS2 News Friday were pleased with the school’s admission it had failed them, but said they should have done something sooner.
“The initial accusations that they accepted the fact that they didn’t look through that well, but they’re taking steps now, so I think that’s a good start, at least,” said one female student.
“They’ve acknowledged that that was a mistake, and they want to get to the bottom of this situation,” said another student.
The school earlier said its own investigation into the complaints had not resulted in findings of criminal wrongdoing, but they did say they found his behavior and actions violated school principles.
As of Friday, no cases had officially been forwarded to the LAPD.
This is only the latest scandal involving USC staff. In 2017, the dean of USC’s School of Medicine Carmen Puliafito was fired after he was linked to a prostitute who said he provided her with illegal drugs.