There is good reason to believe the University of Southern California (USC) is liable for sexual abuse allegedly committed by Dr. George Tyndall in his 30 years at the school’s health center. In May 2018, dozens of women filed lawsuits alleging Dr. Tyndall, the only full-time gynecologist at USC’s student health center for almost three decades, acted inappropriately and even sexually assaulted young female students who visited the health center for pelvic exams.
In addition to naming Dr. Tyndall as a party in these lawsuits, the plaintiffs also named the university as a defendant. Not only are there legal doctrines that allow you to hold employers liable for employees’ actions, but there is a reason to believe USC knew about the alleged sexual abuse and kept it a secret. This behavior allowed more young women to become victims of his abuse.
When Are Employers Are Responsible for Employee’s Actions?
Under a legal doctrine called vicarious liability or respondeat superior, employers are generally legally responsible for the actions of employees when:
- The worker is classified as an employee;
- The employee is on the clock at the time; and
- The employee is engaging in a work-related task.
This means USC is liable for Dr. Tyndall’s alleged inappropriate behaviors, no matter if there is of negligent hiring or other reckless actions on the part of the university. To hold USC accountable and win a payout from the school, the victims will only need to show Dr. Tyndall acted inappropriately or sexually assaulted them.
Did USC Cover up for Dr. Tyndall?
The lawsuits filed allege that USC likely knew about the alleged sexual abuse before the university hired Dr. Tyndall as a full-time employee in 1990. A 1988 report filed against Dr. Tyndall, then a medical resident at the USC Medical Center, alleged he performed a pelvic exam on a young woman and inserted his ungloved fingers into her vagina. USC hired him anyway.
Almost from the beginning of his tenure, female staff members reported concerns over his actions, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times. Despite these concerns, and numerous complaints from patients, no action was ever taken against Dr. Tyndall during the first 25 years of his career.
The University Medical Center Administration Fielded the Complaints
Despite complaints, Dr. Tyndall continued to see patients each day. Many of them were young women who had not had a previous pelvic exam. During this time, the administrative team at the health center claimed to look into the complaints on their own.
Since this never resulted in disciplinary action, there are questions about how thorough these investigations were. University leadership claims it was never aware of the complaints prior to the 2016 allegations that led to Dr. Tyndall’s eventual resignation.
Understanding the Alleged Inappropriate Behavior
The allegations against Dr. Tyndall mention many types of inappropriate and abusive behavior, including:
- Making women take off all their clothes for a routine pelvic exam;
- Photographing their bodies without permission;
- Touching that was inappropriate and unnecessary;
- Making inappropriate sexual comments;
- Making racial comments, particularly to black and Hispanic students; and
- Asking unnecessary questions about the student’s sexual history.
Were USC’s Investigations Handled Appropriately?
In 2016, the USC leadership finally became aware of a complaint against Dr. Tyndall. This complaint and the ensuing internal investigation found enough evidence that termination was a likely outcome. However, after Dr. Tyndall threatened to sue the school, USC backed down. He resigned as a part of a settlement agreement with the university and the victim who filed the complaint. This feels like the ultimate slap in the face for many young women who allege he touched them inappropriately. Even the current leadership of USC agrees termination would have been more appropriate.
In late May, USC President C.L. Max Nikias announced he would step down in the coming months. Students, alumni, and others in the community signed a petition demanding he resign because of the missteps in this case.
What Can I Do If I Endured This Type of Sexual Assault?
If you had a pelvic exam at the USC health center between 1989 and 2016, you might be one of Dr. Tyndall’s victims. Not only was Dr. Tyndall preying on young women, USC failed in its duty to protect students.
You can join the women who already took a stand against USC and Dr. Tyndall. Demand that justice is served by contacting the USC hotline, calling the police, or contacting a lawyer today at 877-385-9792. You may be able to sue USC and Dr. Tyndall for sexual abuse.