LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Longtime former USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall, who has been accused by more than 400 female patients of molestation over a period of several decades, was arrested Wednesday on sexual abuse charges.
The 72-year-old Tyndall was taken into custody at his Mid-Wilshire apartment, located a short distance from the USC campus.
He is charged with 18 counts of sexual penetration and 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud, all felonies, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors said the charges relate to 16 victims ranging in age from 17 to 29. The alleged assaults occurred between 2009 and 2016 while Tyndall worked at the campus health center.
At an afternoon news conference, Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore said Tyndall was armed with a loaded .38-caliber revolver at the time of his arrest. Moore said he did not believe Tyndall has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, which is highly restricted in California.
Tyndall complained of chest pains when he was arrested and he has been hospitalized for treatment, according to Moore.
LAPD said it had 12 detectives working full-time on the case, spoke to more than 400 women and traveled across 16 states during the investigation.
Tyndall is being held on $2.1 million bail. It’s unclear when his first court hearing will take place.
“USC is awaiting further details on George Tyndall’s arrest,” USC Interim President Wanda M. Austin told CBS2 in a statement. “We have cooperated with the LAPD and District Attorney’s Office investigations since the beginning and will continue to do so. We care deeply about our community and our top priority continues to be the wellbeing of our students, health center patients and university community. We hope this arrest will be a healing step for former patients and our entire university.”
Tyndall served as the only full-time gynecologist at the USC Engemann Student Health Center for nearly 30 years. In 2016, the school began investigating him over allegations of improper pelvic exams and making racist and sexually inappropriate remarks. Former colleagues had questioned his methods of pelvic exams, specifically, his practice of digital insertion before using a speculum.
Numerous women have stated Tyndall watched them undress and proceeded to violate them during pelvic exams.
Tyndall’s attorneys said in a statement that their client “remains adamant” that he will be “totally exonerated.”
USC didn’t terminate Tyndall’s employment until June 2017. The Times had been looking into Tyndall for months prior to the university’s public acknowledgment in May of 2018 that the school had been investigating him.
Since the revelation, hundreds of women with misconduct complaints against Tyndall have come forward and filed lawsuits against the school, claiming that USC tried to cover up his sexual abuse.
More than 400 women have accused him of sexual misconduct. In December, LAPD detectives found numerous naked photographs of women in a rental storage unit belonging to Tyndall.
As a result of the scandal, USC President C. L. Max Nikias officially resigned his position in August 2018. Two longtime student health clinic administrators were also fired.
In October, USC announced it had reached a $215 million settlement in principle on a class-action lawsuit brought against Tyndall. As part of the settlement, all class-action members will receive compensation of $2,500, with some potentially receiving more.
One of the women accusing Tyndall of sexual abuse is USC graduate student Daniella Mohazab who was a patient of Tyndall’s in 2016. She is part of the civil suit against the former gynecologist, but attorneys declined to say if she is one of the alleged victims for which charges were filed against Tyndall.
“I broke down at work today in tears of happiness,” Mohazab said of hearing the news of Tyndall’s arrest.
The Tyndall scandal is just one of several which have rocked the university.
In March, USC was one of several elite schools named in the nationwide admissions bribery scandal in which wealthy parents paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their children admitted.
In January, a former USC men’s basketball assistant coach pleaded guilty for his role in a pay-for-play scandal in which schools would funnel money through shoe companies to a player in exchange for their commitment.
In August of 2018, USC revealed that it had hired and fired former California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-West Los Angeles) as a professor. USC asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to conduct a criminal investigation into a recent suspicious $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by his father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. The 30-year-old Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was hired by USC as a professor despite not having a graduate degree.
In April 2016, Carmen Puliafito stepped down as dean of the USC Keck School of Medicine after it was revealed he had partied with underage girls and provided drugs to his girlfriend, who was a prostitute. The California medical board later ordered Puliafito be stripped of his license to practice medicine.
In November 2016, Dr. Rohit Varma, a noted ophthalmologist, was named dean to replace Puliafito. However, in October 2017, he also resigned amid a report that 15 years prior, USC reached a financial settlement with a female researcher who accused him of sexual harassment.
In March, USC announced that it had named Dr. Carol L. Folt to be the school’s twelfth president.