Largest Of Its Kind: $852 Million Settlement Reached In Lawsuits Over Ex-USC Gynecologist George Tyndall
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Attorneys representing over 700 women who claim they were sexually abused by George Tyndall, a former University of Southern California gynecologist, announced an $852 million "global settlement" of lawsuits against the university Thursday.
"This is the message I want to send today," said Allison Rowland, a survivor. "Powerful people at powerful institutions can and must be held to account."
"This historic settlement came about through the bravery of hundreds of women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced," said attorney John Manly, whose firm represented 234 of the plaintiffs.
"We appreciate the diligent efforts of the survivors' attorneys who worked with us to obtain this measure of justice and healing. The enormous size of this settlement speaks to the immense harm done to our clients and the culpability of USC. It is the direct result of a billionaire-dominated Board of Trustees that placed fundraising, prestige and the 'USC Brand' above the safety of vulnerable female students. It is the sincere hope of all of the survivors that the legacy of this settlement will cause a dramatic change in this toxic culture."
"USC and the 710 women who filed civil cases in Los Angeles Superior Court involving Tyndall have reached a global agreement that is fair and reasonable," the university said Thursday. "The $852 million settlement will end this litigation in state court. The USC Board of Trustees has ratified the settlement."
"USC allowed thousands of women to be abused by the gynecologist," said Lucy Chi, a survivor. "When they found out, they covered it up. They aided and abetted all of those sexual assaults."
The settlement comes after USC last year reached a $215 million settlement in principle on a class-action lawsuit brought against the 73-year-old by hundreds of patients.
As part of last year's settlement, all class-action members would receive compensation of $2,500.
Combined, the two surpass $1 billion, a record amount according to the Associated Press.
A statement from USC President Carol L. Folt read, "I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community. We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall."
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USC Board of Trustees Chair Rick J. Caruso Thursday said, "The behavior that was discovered shocks the conscience of the University to its core.
Our institution fell short by not doing everything it could to protect those who matter to us most – our students, and I am sorry for the pain this caused the very people we were obligated to protect. In the aftermath of these reports, I was asked to be the board chair. The board immediately took swift action to restore trust, accountability and faith in our university. Our restructured board installed Dr. Folt as president and a new leadership team with a mandate to drive meaningful reforms, through oversight and full accountability.
We are steadfast in our commitment to assuring that these steps have the intended impact and reflect real change. Today marks the end of a painful and ugly chapter in the history of our university. More importantly, it signals a critical step forward in strengthening and reweaving the fabric of our community."
USC officials have previously denied any cover-up and said the university has put new protocols in place at its Student Health Center to ensure complaints are fully investigated and resolved.
Tyndall was placed on leave by the university in 2016 and was allowed to retire with a financial settlement in 2017. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Hundreds of women have come forward with allegations of abuse by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams during his time at the university, with some complaints dating back to the 1980s.
The various lawsuits have alleged that Tyndall used his position as a trusted and credentialed medical professional to commit a series of abusive acts toward his patients, such as forcing patients to undress completely in front of him while he watched, groping patients' breasts and making racist, misogynistic and sexually harassing comments to patients.
The lawsuits contend USC was aware of Tyndall's sexual abuse of female student patients for decades and continued to grant him unfettered sexual access to the young students in his and USC's care.
Tyndall was originally charged in June 2019 with 18 felony counts of sexual penetration and 11 felony counts of sexual battery by fraud involving 16 women dating back to 2009, with the alleged victims ranging in age from 17 to 31. He pleaded not guilty and was released from jail on bond about two months after his arrest.
Last year, prosecutors filed charges against Tyndall, five counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and one county of sexual battery by fraud — which he pled not guilty to.
The charges involved alleged crimes against five women while Tyndall was working at USC's health center between 2011 and 2015, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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