Women file lawsuits against USC over former doctor’s conduct

Four lawsuits from seven women were filed against former health center gynecologist George Tyndall this week, alleging sexual assault and abusive behavior during patient examinations. The lawsuits come after the University fired two health clinic supervisors and more than 200 complaints were submitted to the university hotline last week.

Seven former and current students have filed lawsuits against USC over former health center doctor George Tyndall’s misconduct. (Daily Trojan file photo)

In the first lawsuit, four of the plaintiffs will be represented by John Manly, the lead attorney who helped settle a sexual assault case against Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar last week.

The four plaintiffs want this to never happen to another Trojan again,” Manly said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “These people are not the enemies of the University, quite the opposite. These are our friends and neighbors and people who went to the university, just like I did. It’s shocking, given what USC sells itself as, that they would be treated this way.”

According to the first lawsuit’s complaints statement, the first plaintiff claimed that during a medical appointment in 2003, Tyndall use his ungloved hand to penetrate her vagina up to his wrist. She reported that she was abused an estimated eight times until 2007, with Tyndall forcefully inserting his fingers and hands without protection each time.

The second plaintiff listed in the complaint alleged that Tyndall forced her to disrobe, groped her and digitally penetrated her. Tyndall also asked her questions about her sexual history that she felt were of inappropriate nature, such as if she had ever swallowed semen. From 2008 to 2014, she reported suffering abuse from Tyndall on at least two other occasions.

For most women, the first time they go see a gynecologist is in college,” Manly said. “And a lot of them go because they need care or because they want to be sexually active to get better contraceptives. That’s a very vulnerable time — an emotional time — and the allegations are that Dr. Tyndall took advantage of this, which is disgusting, if true.”

The third woman went in to receive treatments for an infection and reported experiencing assault similar to that reported by the second plaintiff. However, she also said that Tyndall continued to penetrate her despite her pleas to stop, and that he never gave her the proper medical examination that she had requested.

The fourth woman listed in the complaint claimed that she had scheduled an appointment to treat lower abdominal pain that she was experiencing. During her appointment with Tyndall, he exhibited behavior that she found inappropriate, such as digitally penetrating her vagina with two fingers on multiple occasions and asking questions about her sexual orientation and history that she found intrusive.

A federal class action lawsuit was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, by a fifth woman named Lucy Chi, alleging she was violated by Tyndall during an appointment with him in 2012. In a third lawsuit, represented by attorney David Ring, a sixth woman alleged Tyndall inserted his fingers into her vagina during a pelvic exam and commented about the tightness of her vaginal muscle.

The fourth lawsuit was filed by high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred on behalf of Filipina communication management graduate student Daniella Mohazab claims that Tyndall compared her to his wife, who is also Filipina, while asking her questions about her sexual history. She also alleges that Tyndall inserted his ungloved hand into her vagina in a routine STD test that usually is administered by the patient on their own.

At a press conference held Tuesday, Allred said a number of young women, including Mohazab, Angela Hawkins, and another woman who wished to remain anonymous, came to her with concerns about Tyndall’s conduct.

Allred announced her lawsuit on behalf of Mohazab, and called upon the University to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations made against Tyndall.

Hawkins, who was seen by Tyndall when she was an undergraduate student in 2006 after being allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow student. Hawkins claims that the Engemann Student Health Center told her that USC destroyed medical records from her visit with Tyndall some time between 2015 and 2017.

“I saw Dr. Tyndall because I was violated by another man, and now, I feel violated again,” Hawkins said in the press conference. “It is horrifying to know that at such a vulnerable time in my life, I was in the hands of a predator.”

In her statement, Hawkins also urged victims to not use the University’s hotline for concerns regarding Tyndall, because she said the concerns were being sent to the University’s legal team. She encouraged victims to instead contact independent attorneys who could represent them.

At the press conference, Allred read a statement made by a 1992 graduate from USC who wished to remain anonymous. The woman alleged that during a routine visit for a pap smear, Tyndall took pictures of her genitals. She also alleged that nothing came of complaints she made against Tyndall to the health center and to the University. 

“The University needs to stop looking at these victims as adversaries,” Manly said. “These women are not their adversaries, they’re a part of the university and they need to embrace it and they need to acknowledge wrongdoing.”

According to Manly, since there was an extended time period between when the incidents reportedly took place and were notified, USC may end up using California’s statute of limitations as a defense. Although the law states that a person must file the complaint within a certain of time, this time period typically begins when the victim realizes they suffered harm.  

However, Manly stated that the Discovery Rule, which applies if a victim did not know they were being assaulted at the time of the alleged incident, could suspend the statute of limitation.

Clearly, there is a culture that values silence and the image of the institution over individual human beings,” Manly said. “That culture is why this kind of stuff happens. It is why it happened at Michigan State with Larry Nassar and we’re going to find out it is why it happened at USC with Dr. Tyndall. It needs to change.”

The University said in a statement to the Daily Trojan it will focus on supporting its students.

“We are focused on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and providing support to those affected,” the statement said.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from USC administration.