LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two women who allege they were sexually assaulted by USC's former longtime campus gynecologist joined their attorney today in calling for the release of a report on the university's internal investigation.
“If USC wanted to tell the truth and truly hold leadership accountable, they would release the report so we could clearly see the facts,'' Shernae Hughes, a 2018 USC graduate, said of the investigation into George Tyndall, who is facing criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting 16 young women at the campus clinic where he practiced for decades.
“It's time for USC to move beyond mere rhetoric and hold themselves accountable for their lack of leadership in this case and other cases of institutional trauma against people of color,'' Hughes said, adding that USC has “failed to address the racial component that I and other Black women have experienced at the hands of George Tyndall.''
She claimed that she told Tyndall before being “sexually assaulted'' that she was interested in opening Black businesses and that Tyndall responded, “You should open more clinics so they can stop having so many babies.'''
Ja'Mesha Morgan, a 2018 graduate of J.D. Gould School of Law at USC, said she had also been sexually assaulted and that Tyndall told her Black women don't experience side effects from birth control, instead of offering her a legitimate medical opinion.
“... I'm calling on USC, its representatives and its students to hold USC accountable,'' Morgan said at a downtown Los Angeles news conference. “We want responsibility. We want transparency. We want the facts.''
In a statement released shortly after the news conference, the university said, “The safety and well-being of our students is vitally important to USC.''
“The university has implemented a number of reforms to protect students from sexual abuse and harassment, and since her arrival last year, President (Carol) Folt has built on those actions and put in place a new leadership team that is dedicated to putting students first, changing the culture and promoting racial equality,'' according to the university statement. “The university has already resolved the vast majority of claims in the Tyndall matter and welcomes the opportunity to engage with the remaining plaintiffs and counsel to reach a fair resolution to those cases that remain.''
In January, a federal judge in Los Angeles granted final approval of a $215 million class-action settlement between USC and some of the women who claim they were sexually abused by Tyndall.
The settlement provides all class members -- about 17,000 former patients who received women's health services from Tyndall -- compensation of $2,500 and up. Patients who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000.
Tyndall and USC have also been sued in state court by about 600 alleged victims, many of whom claim they were inappropriately fondled or photographed by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams. Many have also accused him of making sexually charged comments during the exams.
Alleged victims have contended that the university received numerous complaints of Tyndall's alleged sexually abusive behavior dating back to at least 1988, and actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall's actions. Attorneys for some victims have argued that following an internal investigation of complaints against Tyndall in 2016, the university paid Tyndall a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign three years ago.
USC officials have denied any cover-up, and Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing.
USC has said it has put new protocols in place at its Student Health Center to ensure any complaints are investigated and resolved by appropriate university officials and authorities. Additionally, the university said it has hired female, board-certified physicians and introduced patient education materials about sensitive examinations.
Attorney Vince Finaldi -- whose law firm is representing Hughes and Morgan in a lawsuit against USC -- said he wanted the university “to release information about Dr. Tyndall that was promised months and months ago.'' He said USC Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Caruso announced in May 2018 that the university was going to conduct an independent investigation into allegations that Tyndall had sexually abused students, and that lawyers have interviewed more than 100 witnesses and reviewed more than 4.5 million documents.
“During his statements in May 2018, Rick Caruso promised that USC's reaction to the Dr. George Tyndall scandal was going to be comprehensive, that it was going to be expedient and that it was going to be transparent,'' Finaldi said. “And despite the fact that this investigation's gone on for over two years, with all these witnesses interviewed, all these documents reviewed there has been no report released -- not a single page or not a single conclusion from the report.''
The attorney said there are ways USC can release the report while protecting the confidentiality and the rights of Tyndall's alleged victims. He also alleged that Tyndall had made “comments of a racial nature to African-American students, Asian-American students, Middle Eastern-American students and Latin-American students'' that were “investigated multiple times throughout the course of his tenure there.''
Tyndall, now 73, was charged last June with 18 felony counts of sexual penetration and 11 felony counts of sexual battery by fraud involving 16 women. He subsequently pleaded not guilty and was released from jail on bond about two months after his arrest.
He is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom July 24, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against him to move forward to trial.
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