Attorneys representing more than 250 victims of former USC gynecologist George Tyndall held a press conference Thursday at the Radisson Hotel, after filing 93 additional lawsuits against the University. More than 15 of Tyndall’s accusers attended, calling on California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate the University.
The U.S. Department of Education opened a Title IX investigation into the University’s handling of allegations of abuse against Tyndall in June. The lawsuits allege that USC ignored complaints about Tyndall and knowingly concealed his actions throughout his time at the Engemann Student Health Center.
John Manly and Andy Rubenstein, the attorneys representing the accusers, were present at the conference. Rachael Denhollander and Sarah Klein, who were victims of former sports physician Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse at Michigan State University, also voiced their support for a state investigation.
“To the Attorney General of California, do it better this time,” Denhollander said. “Open an independent investigation into what went on at USC even faster than the attorney general in Michigan did.”
Eleven women spoke about their experiences with Tyndall, and many testified that Tyndall photographed them naked in his office.
“I couldn’t believe it when I found out that the LAPD has boxes of photos of our vaginas,” said Audrey Nafziger, a graduate of the Gould School of Law. “It’s absolutely disgusting, and it’s absolutely what a predator does. [Tyndall] keeps trophies.”
One victim, who introduced herself as Sarah, said she called to find out if the University was holding those photos. She said the experience was “chilling and shocking.”
“To this day, they’ve never followed up on my inquiry,” Sarah said.
The women and their attorneys also called on USC to break its silence and listen to the nearly 500 accusers.
“USC is treating these women as their adversary …” Manly said. “These women are not your adversaries, they’re your best friends. It’s like they came home to their mother and tried to tell her about their abuse, and their mother shut the door in their face and threw rocks to get them off the lawn.”
Dana Loewy, a former USC student and victim, said she wants the Board of Trustees to change, and that she thinks it is ridiculous the members of its executive committee are kept a secret.
“When, USC, are you going to respond?” said Brennan Heil, a senior majoring in communication. “When are you going to start setting an example for every other university in the country, who I almost guarantee you has the same exact issue?”
Many women spoke about how proud they are to be Trojans, and how excited they were to come to USC as young women. Shernae Hughes, who graduated last May, said she was elated to be the first in her family to attend college, especially one that promised diversity and a commitment to its students’ well-being.
But the reality she discovered was very different. Hughes said Tyndall made numerous racist and sexist remarks to her about black women’s fertility and sexuality.
“I am well aware of the interlocking oppressions of racism and sexism, and it is unfortunate that I have had to experience these effects as a student at the university that I called home,” Hughes said.
Manly said the survivors are calling on Becerra to launch an independent investigation because the University receives taxpayer money. He said that USC’s independent investigation under O’Melveny & Myers LLP, a law firm retained by Chairman Rick Caruso, is insufficient.
“I know who I am as a woman, as a mother, so I am all in to see this through and to tell my story, despite what anyone may say,” said alumna Amanda Davis. “I am hopeful that USC knows what’s at stake here.”