LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four former University of Southern California students sued the school and an ex-campus gynecologist who they accuse of molesting patients over decades as a “serial sexual predator,” according to a court filing Monday.
Dr. George Tyndall routinely made crude comments, took inappropriate photographs and forced the plaintiffs to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his “sexual gratification,” the civil lawsuit said.
Tyndall, who worked at a USC clinic for 30 years, denied wrongdoing in interviews with the Los Angeles Times. He didn’t return phone calls and it wasn’t known Monday if he has an attorney.
The complaint accuses the university of failing to properly respond to complaints about Tyndall. USC said in a statement that it was aware of the lawsuit.
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“We are focused on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and providing support to those affected,” the statement said.
The Times reported Friday that USC received about 200 complaints from former patients and that the school is planning to forward some of those reports to the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD hadn’t opened a criminal investigation into Tyndall as of midday Monday, said Officer Drake Madison.
Tyndall continued to examine young women even though he was the subject of complaints that started years ago, according to the newspaper. The complaints against Tyndall include claims of inappropriate remarks about patients’ bodies and inappropriate touching during pelvic exams.
Tyndall was suspended with pay in 2016 and resigned with a confidential financial settlement in 2017, the paper reported.
The lawsuit alleges the school agreed to the settlement to keep quiet the details of an internal investigation that found Tyndall “routinely made sexually and racially inappropriate remarks to patients, kept a secret box full of photographs of his patients’ genitals.”
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
In a letter last week to the university community, USC President C.L. Max Nikias stated he read reports from Tyndall’s patients over “many difficult hours” and that it left him profoundly disturbed.
“He should have been removed and referred to the authorities years ago,” he wrote. “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.”
The university fired Dr. William Leavitt, the clinic’s top doctor, and Tammie Akiyoshi, the clinic’s director.