$1.1 billion in USC settlement with women alleging abuse by gynecologist
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USC agrees to $1.1 billion in settlement with hundreds of women alleging abuse by gynecologist

“The University of Southern California has agreed to pay more than $1 billion in settlements to those who accused former student health center gynecologist George Tyndall of repeated sexual assaults on female patients.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court approved a deal Thursday that would give 710 women who alleged that they were abused by Tyndall an $852 million settlement. That is in addition to a $215 million settlement that was given final approval last year as part of a different federal class action lawsuit.

Tyndall was arrested in 2019 and charged with 18 counts of sexual penetration and 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud in cases involving multiple young women. Prosecutors also charged him with five counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and one count of sexual battery by fraud last year.

Tyndall has pleaded not guilty. His trial is pending.

Audry Nafziger described herself as one of Tyndall’s first victims during a news conference Thursday, saying that she first saw Tyndall in 1990 when she was a young woman and that she had had no previous experience with a gynecologist.

“I thought it was odd, but what did I know?” Nafziger said. “When he took his camera out to take pictures of me and asked me to participate in those photos, well, what did I know? … I trusted him.”

Nafziger, who is now a sex crimes prosecutor, said the incident changed her life entirely, from her lack of trust in male doctors to the way she looked at herself.

Another accuser, Christy Leach, said Tyndall knew that behind the closed door to his exam room, he could do “whatever he wanted” to her. Leach remarked on how financial settlements for survivors often seem promising but must also be weighed against the long and expensive mental health care needed for recovery.

“As a survivor coming forward, it is imperative for your healing and mental health that you choose carefully the professionals that are going to prioritize your well-being,” Leach said. “If you are a survivor of sexual assault, there is healing, hope and justice for you, as well.”

A retired judge will allocate the settlement funds among the women, which will be paid by USC and the university’s insurance.

The allegations span 2009 to 2016, with hundreds of women having come forward with their own accusations against Tyndall, Los Angeles police have said previously. Some of the allegations fall outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges to be filed.

Detectives found more than 1,000 videos described as “homemade sex tapes” and a number of sexually explicit photographs during a search at Tyndall’s home. Not all were made through his employment at the university.

An investigation by the Education Department’s civil rights office found that USC mishandled the allegations during Tyndall’s employment, which may have allowed abuse to continue.

USC agreed in light the federal investigation’s findings to create a centralized record-keeping system to track misconduct complaints against employees and what actions school officials take in response.

In a statement Thursday, USC said it was committed to reaching a fair agreement with the former students.

“I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community,” USC President Carol L. Folt said. “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.”

John Manly, one of the lead attorneys who helped represent more than 700 women in the settlement, characterized the idea that the university was not aware of the allegations, which spanned decades, as “a damn lie.”

“There are many in the administration and the board of trustees who don’t belong at that university,” Manly said Thursday after the announcement of the settlement. “Not all, but some. … They put the prestige, fundraising and the university brand ahead of the well-being of students for 30 years.””

KGNS | March 11, 2021

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