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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Ex-USC gynecologist charged with sexually assaulting students dies before going to trial

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former University of Southern California campus gynecologist at the center of more than $1 billion worth of university payouts stemming from sexual abuse allegations by hundreds of women was found dead inside his home Wednesday, his lawyer said.

George Tyndall, 76, was awaiting trial on more than two dozen criminal counts of sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2016 at the university’s student health center. He pleaded not guilty in 2019 and was free on bond ahead of a trial that had not yet been scheduled. His lawyer, Leonard Levine, confirmed his death Thursday.

A close friend went to Tyndall’s home in Los Angeles on Wednesday after he had not answered her phone calls, Levine said. She found him dead in his bed.

Levine said there is “no evidence of foul play or suicide.”

Levine said Tyndall was due back in court later this month to set a date for his trial. His client had denied any wrongdoing and wanted to present his case before a jury.

“He’s always maintained his innocence,” Levine said.

Tyndall was initially charged in 2019 with 35 felony counts, but that was later dropped to 27, the Los Angeles Times reported. Eighteen were counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person and nine were counts of sexual battery by fraud. The charges relate to 16 former patients at the campus student health center.

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 worked at the university for nearly three decades.

Tyndall was suspended from the university in 2016, when a nurse reported him to a rape crisis center. He was able to quietly resign with a large payout the next year.

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 faced up to 64 years in prison if convicted.

USC declined to comment Thursday on Tyndall’s death.

As the criminal case was pending, the university agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who accused the college’s longtime campus gynecologist of sexual abuse, the victims’ lawyers and USC announced in 2021. It was believed to be a record sum for a sexual abuse lawsuit against a university.

Tyndall was deposed for the settlement and largely invoked his rights against self-incrimination in answers, the plaintiff’s lawyers said. While he signed the settlement, he did not contribute any money toward it and did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Attorney John Manly, lead counsel in the civil case, on Thursday blamed the former and current district attorneys for years of delays in bringing criminal charges. Manly also represents two of the victims in the criminal proceedings.

Manly said the case then dragged out while Tyndall was free on bond, adding to the victims’ trauma and postponing the trial. He said his clients now will never have justice.

“It’s horrible. I can’t explain it,” Manly said. “They feel re-victimized, and they should.”

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Separately, USC in 2019 agreed to pay $215 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that applies to about 18,000 women who were patients of Tyndall. 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.

Tyndall surrendered his medical license in September 2019.

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