LOS ANGELES (AP) — The University of Southern California has agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who have accused the college’s longtime campus gynecologist of sexual abuse, the victims’ lawyers announced Thursday.
It’s believed to be a record amount for such a lawsuit. When combined with an earlier settlement of a separate class-action suit, USC has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion for claims against Dr. George Tyndall, who worked at the school for nearly three decades.
Tyndall, 74, faces 35 criminal counts of alleged sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2016 at the university’s student health center. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.
Hundreds of women came forward to report their allegations to police but some of the cases fell outside the 10-year statute of limitations, while others did not rise to the level of criminal charges or lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute. Still, he faces up to 64 years in prison if convicted.
The $852 million civil settlement is believed to be the largest sexual abuse settlement against any university, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, as well as the largest personal injury settlement against any college or university. The lawyers say no confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements were attached.
Tyndall’s attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
In 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar. That settlement was considered the largest at the time, far surpassing the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse.
Separately, USC earlier agreed to pay $215 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that applies to about 18,000 women who were patients of Tyndall’s. The individual payouts to those victims range from $2,500 to $250,000, and were given regardless of whether the women formally accused Tyndall of harassment or assault. The final payouts are expected to be issued this month.
Allegations against Tyndall first surfaced in 2018 in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed that the doctor had been the subject of complaints of sexual misconduct at USC dating back to the 1990s.
He wasn’t suspended until 2016, when a nurse reported him to a rape crisis center. He was able to quietly resign with a large payout the next year.
Tyndall surrendered his medical license in September 2019, records show.
“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.”USC President Carol L. Folt
“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 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 Board of Trustees Chair Rick J. Caruso
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
Trademark and Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.