George Tyndall pleads not guilty to sex crimes

The former gynecologist could face up to 64 years in prison if convicted.

George Tyndall. (Daily Trojan file photo)

Content warning: This article contains references to sexual violence.

Former USC gynecologist George Tyndall pleaded not guilty to sex-related criminal charges before a judge Friday at the criminal courts building in downtown Los Angeles. Tyndall is charged with 27 felonies, 18 counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and nine counts of sexual battery.

Investigators said the alleged crimes took place between 2009 and 2016 at Engemann Student Health Center, where Tyndall worked as a gynecologist for three decades. The charges allege that the victims, many of whom were as young as 18 years old, were “unconscious of the nature of the act” and unaware that Tyndall acted inappropriately. 

Tyndall was originally placed on leave in 2016 over concerns about his hygiene. A nurse reported that she had never seen Tyndall wash his hands before or after a patient appointment, that he had requested to keep used intrauterine devices, and a bug infestation in his office required a cleaning while he was on vacation, where a locked file cabinet containing patient photos was discovered. The discovery prompted the University to place Tyndall on leave for violation of Student Health policies of office maintenance and protection of patient health information.

Tyndall is accused of taking unnecessary photographs of patients, including full-body pictures and close-up photos of genitalia, not allowing chaperones room access during gynecological exams, making comments about paitents’ sexual history, vaginal muscle tone, nipples and public hair. A report commissioned by the University warned that Tyndall could be preying on Asian students and showed signs of psychopathy. 

The University dismissed Tyndall from Student Health in 2016 after a nurse reported his inappropriate behavior to a campus rape crisis center. It temporarily suspended Tyndall’s medical license in 2018 following the Los Angeles Times’ investigation into his misconduct, and was permanently revoked in September 2019, three months following his arrest. 

Attorneys for some victims alleged that, following an internal investigation, the University paid Tyndall a financial settlement in return for his quiet resignation. The University did not inform Tyndall’s former patients nor the Medical Board of California. A previous lawsuit alleged that USC “engaged in a pattern and practice of ignoring complaints, failing to investigate sexual harassment and abuse complaints, deliberately concealing information from abuse victims as well as law enforcement and the Medical Board of California, and contributed to a sexually hostile environment on campus.” Patients consistently filed complaints from 1988 to 2017 against Tyndall throughout his time at USC and after the University placed him on leave. 

USC reached two settlements with Tyndall’s victims that totalled more than $1 billion, the largest amount ever paid in response to sex crimes in higher education. A class action settlement, worth $215 million, provided 17,000 of Tyndall’s former patients with compensation of $2,500 and up, with additional compensation for cooperation with the investigation. The other was worth $852 million for 710 women who opted out of the class action lawsuit and filed civil cases with the L.A. Superior Court. 

Student Health implemented new protocols following the investigation into Tyndall, including creating the Office of Professionalism and Ethics, launching an online reporting mechanism for healthcare providers and hiring all providers through the Keck School of Medicine, which conducts rigorous background checks. 

One of Tyndall’s attorneys, Andrew Flier, told reporters that Tyndall has always claimed innocence, according to reporting by L.A. Daily News. If convicted, the 76-year-old could face up to 64 years in prison.

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