LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Citing systemic failures in the University of Southern California’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct by former campus gynecologist George Tyndall, the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it was mandating sweeping changes in the school’s Title IX procedures and subjecting the school to three years of federal monitoring.
“This total and complete failure to protect students is heartbreaking and inexcusable,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “Too many at USC turned a blind eye to evidence that Dr. Tyndall was preying on students for years.
“We are grateful to every survivor who came forward to share their story with our (Office of Civil Rights) investigators,” she said. “Because of your bravery, we can now work with the university to ensure this never happens to another student on USC’s campus.”
The investigation, opened in May 2018, found that the university was notified of allegations of misconduct by Tyndall and failed to appropriately respond to those accusations, potentially subjecting female students to continued sex discrimination.
The OCR also found that the university failed to maintain a record keeping system to identify and monitor incidents of possible sex discrimination by its employees.
Specifically, the investigation found that the school had notice from five patients of possibly misconduct from 2000-2009, but the school failed to investigate or ensure that steps were taken to prevent the misconduct from happening again even after four more patients came forward with accusations; patients and staff complained about inappropriate remarks by Tyndall during pelvic exams; the school failed to investigate complaints in 2016 that Tyndall conducted pelvic exams without gloves and, the same year, failed to investigate complaints that Tyndall digitally penetrated patients during examinations and full-body skin checks; and the university failed to investigate fully after it discovered more than 200 photographs of patients’ genitals in Tyndall’s office in 2016 and allowed him to continue seeing patients.
In response to the investigation, USC President Carol Folt said, in part:
“OCR’s conclusions align with my personal resolve to strengthen USC policies, procedures and practices to promote patient well-being and prevent future misconduct. The university is confronting its past and implementing changes necessary to inform its future. We have already taken significant steps to better integrate our Title IX protections into the healthcare setting and to reinforce a culture of care, responsibility, and accountability across all University programs and activities.”
As a result of the investigation, the school and the OCR entered into an agreement that requires USC to ensure that Title IX officials at the university have the authority to respond to reports of sex discrimination and track and monitor every complaint or report of potential sex discrimination — providing the DOE with documentation of reports — reach out to known patients of Tyndall to offer remedy of harm done, change Title IX procedures to ensure all involved receive due process and conduct a review of current and former employees to determine whether they took appropriate action regarding complaints lodged against Tyndall.
“What we have found at USC is shocking and reprehensible,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “No student should ever have to face the disgusting behavior that USC students had to deal with. I am pleased that President Folt is now committing to major changes, and we will closely monitor the University to make sure that it complies with our agreement.”
The school will remain under federal monitoring for Title IX compliance for the next three years.
Tyndall is awaiting trial on charges of sexually assaulting 16 patients over a seven-year period, but some former patients have alleged wrongdoing dating back decades. Hundreds of former patients have sued Tyndall and USC, accusing the university of failing to respond to allegations of abuse, some as far back as the 1980s.