George Tyndall preliminary hearing postponed

George Tyndall pleaded not guilty to 35 felonious charges, including 23 counts of unlawful penetration and 12 counts of sexual battery, brought by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. (Amanda Chou | Daily Trojan file photo)

Content warning: This article contains references to sexual assault and violence.

A preliminary hearing for the criminal trial of former USC gynecologist George Tyndall, scheduled for Friday at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, was rescheduled to a later date — tentatively May 13. 

Following complaints and reports beginning in the 1990s that Tyndall engaged in sexual misconduct with his patients — many of whom were USC students — at the Engemann Student Health Center, he pleaded not guilty to 35 felonious charges brought by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Charged with 23 counts of unlawful penetration and 12 counts of sexual battery, Tyndall was the perpetrator in more than 18,000 reports of sexual abuse. If convicted of all charges, he could expect 64 years of imprisonment.

Tyndall was dismissed from practicing at the University in 2016 following a nurse’s report of his inappropriate behavior to a campus rape crisis center. Tyndall’s medical license was suspended three months after his arrest in June 2019, though it was temporarily suspended in 2018 following the Los Angeles Times’ investigation into Tyndall’s recurrent misconduct against patients. 

The investigation also found that, despite receiving reports of Tyndall’s wrongdoing, the University failed to immediately inform the Medical Board of California. In 2018, the USC Board of Trustees hired law firm O’Melveny & Myers to investigate the allegations; however, the report was never released.

Judge Larry Paul Fidler presided over a preliminary hearing for Tyndall’s case held at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center Nov. 30, during which two students — Jane Doe #14 and Jane Doe #16 — testified against Tyndall, speaking to the details of the sexual abuse they experienced as patients. Insured by USC Student Health, both students were limited to treatment at Engemann, where they said the finite number of women practitioners meant they could only schedule gynecology appointments with Tyndall. 

The University reached two separate settlements connected to the Tyndall case: an $852 million settlement in response to civil cases filed by the Los Angeles Superior Court to 710 women and a federal class-action lawsuit compensating individuals who received women’s health services from Tyndall. The latter entitled anyone who had been treated by Tyndall to receive $2,500 without disclosing the details of their interactions with him, totaling $215 million distributed to 18,000 women. With more than $1 billion paid, the settlement is the largest payout in response to sex abuse in the history of higher education.

Following Tyndall’s suspension and subsequent removal, USC expanded safety protocols, including rewriting sensitive exam policy, employing more women physicians in the gynecology department, expanding the Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention program and increasing accessibility to reporting potential misconduct and patient feedback.

Preliminary hearings only occur in felony cases and enable judges to assess whether there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that an offense was committed and that there is a reasonable possibility that the defendant committed the crime. 

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller, Jr. expressed eagerness Friday to promptly proceed with the hearing process, as there are 17 more victims and other witnesses yet to testify. 

No trial date has been set for Tyndall’s case.