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Students Hold USC and School Gynecologist Accountable For Decades-Long Sexual Misconduct

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The University of Southern California is yet another institution that, rather than take sexual misconduct charges from students and employees seriously, would rather deal with perpetrators of sexual crimes quietly and inefficiently so as to protect themselves from embarrassment. For former students like Lucy Chi, this is not good enough.

As reported by Jezebel, former grad student Lucy Chi filed a class action lawsuit yesterday against USC, its Board of Trustees, and its former primary gynecologist, George Tyndall, on her own behalf, “and on behalf of all women who received a medical examination from Dr. George Tyndall at the University of Southern California.” The suit claims that USC allowed Tyndall to continue practicing at the school despite a decades-long history of sexual misconduct and assault allegations against him going as far back as the 1990s.

During that time, Tyndall has been accused by both students and colleagues alike of things like “sexualized comments about patients’ bodies while giving exams, photographing their genitals, and racially targeting Chinese patients, among other crimes.”

A recent L.A. Times report details the history of complaints against Tyndall from chaperones in the room with him who witnessed his behavior first-hand. 71-year-old Tyndall dismissed the allegations saying that “chaperones reported him because they had trouble reaching orgasm and were jealous of young patients with tighter pelvic muscles.”

The law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP details the doctor’s inappropriate behavior, and holds the school responsible for the suffering of “a proposed class of hundreds, if not thousands, of women students,” saying:

“Both patients and nurses at USC accused Dr. Tyndall of “creepy” behavior, including inappropriate touching of his patients. Still, despite this knowledge, the university balked, allowing him to continue to practice. Not until 2016 was Dr. Tyndall finally suspended after a nurse approached USC’s rape crisis center. According to the Los Angeles Times, ‘…in a secret deal last summer, top administrators allowed Tyndall to resign quietly with a financial payout.’

“USC did not act on its knowledge of sexual harassment and the violation of its students by its own employee. USC did not notify Tyndall’s patients or patients’ parents when he was suspended. USC did not report Dr. Tyndall to the Medical Board of California.”

You can check out the full complaint HERE.

Chi details her own experience with Tyndall during her time as a first-year grad student at USC back in 2012. She alleges that when she went in for her appointment, she was told she’d have to wait an hour for a chaperone to be available to go in with her. She couldn’t wait that long, so she agreed to go into the exam without one. He then began acting in a “suggestive” manner and penetrated her vagina with his hands, “saying he wanted to loosen up her vaginal muscles for the speculum.” Later in the 15-minute examination, he removed his gloves to examine her breasts, touching them inappropriately.

The complaint then brings up the fact that later, the chaperone returned and “asked Tyndall why he hadn’t waited for her, given that she had told him she was going on a short break. Tyndall replied that Chi had given him permission to proceed without a chaperone, as if the violation of protocol and standard of care was Chi’s fault.”

Tyndall’s behavior is bad enough, but the school’s response to decades of complaints is inexcusable. It should not take this many years, and this many complaints to get a school to act in the best interests of its students. And when the school finally does take action, it shouldn’t coddle the accused, ensuring that they’re financially taken care of, getting to leave their job completely painlessly.

Thankfully, this class action lawsuit put all this out into the open so that everyone involved can be held accountable for their actions.

(image: USC)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.