A gynecologist accused of misconduct by multiple co-workers was allowed to continue treating female college students, according to an LA Times investigation.
Dr. George Tyndall was the resident gynecologist at the University of Southern California’s student health center for nearly 30 years, during which time he treated thousands of young women. What many of his patients didn’t know was that misconduct allegations had been levelled against him for decades by alarmed co-workers.
In the 90s, his coworkers raised concerns about his frequent photographing of patients’ genitalia. Though there are legitimate reasons why gynecologists may photograph their patients (including for teaching purposes), his colleagues deemed his use of photography as excessive. Tyndall says that he only took photos with patients' consent and for valid reasons.
The LA Times reports that after this first allegation, patients and nursing staff accused Tyndall repeatedly of behavior they characterized as “creepy.” It included touching women inappropriately during pelvic exams and making suggestive remarks about their bodies. Some feared that Tyndall was targeting USC’s Chinese student population, as they were less likely to complain because they might be unfamiliar with English or common medical practice in the US.
In the early 2000s, at least three USC students made complaints against Tyndall in the early 2000s, alleging that he touched them inappropriately or made suggestive remarks. Nursing staff also said that he made women lie naked on the exam table while he inspected every part of their body, commenting on their “perky breasts” or “creamy” skin.
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Despite the fact that complaints against Tyndall spanned decades, he was only suspended in 2016 after a nurse complained to the campus rape crisis center. An internal investigation by university officials determined that his conduct did constitute sexual harassment.
Instead of firing Tyndall or reporting him to police, USC allowed him to resign with a financial settlement. His former patients were also not notified. USC administrators also did not report Tyndall to the Medical Board of California at the time, meaning that he still has a license to practice. (The university eventually filed a complaint on 9 March, a month after LA Times reporters began asking questions about Tyndall’s behavior.)
Tyndall denies all allegations of professional misconduct. "I'm there to protect the health of Trojan [USC] women," he told the LA Times.
USC president C.L. Max Nikias apologized to students and faculty in an email earlier this week, describing Tyndall’s behavior as a “profound breach of trust,” and apologizing to students who might have been mistreated by him at the medical center.
"We were deeply troubled by the complaints regarding Dr. George Tyndall, a former physician at the university, as nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our students," a USC spokesperson told Broadly. "When the university received a complaint from a staff member in 2016, we immediately took action by launching an investigation and placing Tyndall on administrative leave. He was never allowed to return to service and had no further contact with students.
"The investigation concluded that he did not meet current practice standards and that he made inappropriate remarks to patients, and as a result, we severed ties with him. While USC’s investigation did not find evidence of criminal conduct, his actions and behavior were a clear violation of our principles of community and a shameful betrayal of our values."