Five California women who were sexually abused, harassed, molested and assaulted as students and patients under the care of former gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall have filed a lawsuit against their perpetrator and the University of Southern California (USC) for failing to disclose, investigate, and prevent sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of one of its physicians who used his position of trust to violate female students for nearly three decades. Attorneys Kevin Boyle and Jesse Creed of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP; Muhammad S. Aziz of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz; and Michelle Simpson Tuegel of The Simpson Tuegel Law Firm represent these five women seeking justice.
“USC never reported Tyndall to law enforcement or to the Medical Board; it knowingly and shamelessly enabled a serial sexual predator to prey upon female students for nearly 30 years and repeatedly failed these young women entrusted in its care,” said attorney Kevin Boyle. ” We intend to hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the complaint documents the Plaintiffs’ claims and seeks to hold USC and its enablers accountable, alleging female students were forced to seek medical treatment from Tyndall as the only full-time gynecologist at the Engemann Student Health Center, despite the university’s knowledge of numerous complaints of Tyndall’s sexually abusive behavior towards female patients on campus.
The complaint further alleges USC protected its own reputation and financial interests by not only granting Tyndall unfettered sexual access to female students and actively concealing complaints of his sexual abuse, but by “paying Tyndall a financial settlement so that he would quietly resign, after Defendant USC’s 2016 investigation revealed that Tyndall routinely made sexually and racially inappropriate remarks to patients, kept a secret box full of photographs of his patients’ genitals, and had documented complaints against him lodged to Defendant USC dating back to at least the year 1988.”
As alleged in the complaint, “Tyndall used his position of trust and authority to sexually abuse Plaintiffs on multiple occasions, by engaging in acts that include but are not limited to: forcing Plaintiffs to strip naked, groping Plaintiffs’ breasts, forcing Plaintiffs to undergo unnecessary pelvic exams, penetrating Plaintiffs’ vaginas in a rough manner, and gratifying himself by saying sexually explicit comments while fondling Plaintiffs’ genitals, for no legitimate medical purpose and for no other reason than to satisfy his own prurient sexual desires.”
“For most of the women, this was their first time going to the gynecologist. At what is such a vulnerable time in a young woman’s life, and in an exposed physical state, they were put in the hands of a predator by their school. These courageous women have joined their Trojan sisters in taking a stand because they want to prevent this type of abuse from happening to other women in the future,” said attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel.
In 2015, Plaintiff Kendall Fujioka was sexually abused by Tyndall during a gynecological exam at the Student Health Center where he digitally penetrated her “while making comments to her that ‘she would have a very happy husband one day,’ telling her she was beautiful, and making racially suggestive and inappropriate comments that suggest he was deriving personal sexual gratification from his supposed treatment of her.”
Plaintiff Kenia Gomez also sought treatment at USC’s Student Health Center in 2014 where she underwent a vaginal exam performed by Tyndall who made sexually explicit comments and innuendo, asking if she had a boyfriend and how frequently she had sex, and if she was a runner because “her vagina was tight.”
“I will never forget the helplessness and humiliation I felt as I laid there, exposed and vulnerable, wondering if the treatment I was experiencing was typical of a male gynecologist as I’d never had one before.” said Ms. Fujioka.
“What happened in that examination room under the guise of medical treatment is inexcusable and unforgivable,” Ms. Gomez said. “It’s time for USC to adhere to its own Code of Ethics and take responsibility for its role in facilitating what happened to me, and to hundreds of women. There must be an end to its culture of dismissing complaints from sexual abuse victims.”
Additional plaintiffs include a female USC student who had been raped in 2008 and treated by Tyndall who made sexually explicit comments about her rape, telling her “it looks like you had fun last night” while touching her inappropriately during treatment; a married, female USC student seeking birth control who underwent an unnecessary pelvic exam in 2013 and was subjected to inappropriate and sexually explicit comments by Tyndall about her sex life while suggesting she would “eventually divorce her husband or cheat on him with other men because there is so much “deliciousness” in the world; and a female USC student who underwent a pap smear and vaginal exam in 2001 performed by Tyndall who digitally penetrated her while asking if she wanted him “to show her how to masturbate properly.”
“The trauma these young women have suffered as a result of this harassment and abuse has only been made worse by the failure of their university to take meaningful responsibility for what happened to so many young women for decades on USC’s watch,” said attorney Mo Aziz.