University terminates two Engemann administrators in wake of gynecologist’s alleged misconduct

Two USC administrators at the Engemann Student Health Center were terminated  following the University’s memorandum earlier this week detailing the sexually inappropriate and racially discriminatory conduct of former Engemann gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall.

Keck School of Medicine Interim Medical Director and Engemann Lead Physician William Leavitt, as well as Engemann Executive Director Tammie Akiyoshi were both fired this week, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Senior Vice President Todd Dickey said in a statement emailed to the Daily Trojan that the two administrators were fired because of new information learned in complaints from students made to a hotline the University set up for students to express their concerns about Tyndall.

“In light of newly received patient complaints indicating the extent of George Tyndall’s inappropriate conduct, the university has decided to remove Tyndall’s direct supervisor and another senior supervisor from the student health center,” Dickey said. “The university does not take personnel decisions lightly, but will hold people accountable for their supervision and inaction.”

Leavitt told the Los Angeles Times that he was not told the reason for his termination, which he was informed of on Thursday afternoon.

“I’m basically the scapegoat,” Leavitt said to the Times. “From my perspective it’s a wrongful termination.”

Cindy Gilbert, a nurse who worked with Tyndall, told the Times that Akiyoshi and other administrators had received complaints about Tyndall’s behavior, and that she reported Tyndall to USC Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services after becoming frustrated with those administrators.

President C.L. Max Nikias said in a letter sent to the USC community that the University has recieved about 200 responses from patients regarding Tyndall’s conduct as of Friday.

“Trained staff members are individually assessing each report, and, when appropriate, referring it for investigation,” Nikias said.  “We are reaching out to each individual on a case-by-case basis, and offering personalized support and counseling. We are in contact with the Los Angeles Police Department, and are establishing a process for sharing the appropriate cases, with the consent of the patients.”

Following an investigation into his conduct with patients, the University put Tyndall on administrative leave in June 2016, and subsequently terminated him in June 2017.

A Los Angeles Times report published earlier this week said that Tyndall’s misconduct dated back to the 1990s, when his co-workers filed complained about pictures Tyndall took of patients’ bodies. Since then, Tyndall has been accused of lewd behavior, inappropriate touching and sexually suggestive remarks to his patients.

According to the Times, Tyndall has denied the allegations that he acted improperly.

Although complaints about his alleged misconduct had been filed over the course of more than 15 years, the University failed to investigate Tyndall until 2016, and failed to inform his former patients about his misconduct until this week.

“I am struggling with the question — as you are: how could this behavior have gone on for so long?” President Nikias wrote in the University’s latest letter.  “Once again, I want to personally apologize to any student who visited our student health center and was made to feel uncomfortable in any way. You deserved better, and we let you down.”

Leavitt and Akiyoshi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.