A longtime gynecologist at the University of Southern California continued to see student patients for years after the school received complaints of inappropriate behavior during examinations.
According to school officials, Dr. George Tyndall, who worked at the Los Angeles university for 30 years, was repeatedly accused of making “sexually inappropriate” and “racially discriminatory” comments to young women during treatments, reports ABC News.
An investigation into the 71-year-old allegedly found evidence supporting the “deeply troubling” allegations against the physician, USC President Max Nikias wrote in a letter to parents on Tuesday.
“On behalf of the university, I sincerely apologize to any student who may have visited the student health center and did not receive the respectful care each individual deserves,” read the letter.
The investigation, conducted by the university in 2016, found eight additional complaints against Tyndall from 2000 to 2014. Those complaints were independently investigated by Dr. Larry Neinstein, the former director of the health center, allegedly unbeknownst to the university’s administration.
“Several of the complaints were concerning enough that it is not clear today why the former health center director permitted Tyndall to remain in his position,” read a summary of the investigation by the school’s Office of Equity and Diversity.
“These included racially insensitive and other inappropriate comments, concerns that he was not adequately sensitive to patients privacy, a complaint of feeling ‘uncomfortable,’ another that Tyndall ‘gave me the skeevies,’ and another that he was ‘unprofessional,’” the summary continued.
USC Doctor Was Fired Following 2016 Investigation
The 2016 investigation concluded that Tyndall “had violated the university’s policy on harassment by making repeated racially discriminatory and sexually inappropriate remarks during patient encounters.”
Tyndall was suspended by the school in June 2016 after a staff member in the student health center alleged there were “sexually inappropriate comments made to patients in front of medical assistants” by the doctor. He was later fired in June 2017.
“We expect much of the people entrusted with the well-being of our students,” Nikias wrote. “While we have no evidence of criminal conduct, we have no doubt that Dr. Tyndall’s behavior was completely unacceptable. It was a clear violation of our principles of community, and a shameful betrayal of our values.”
Nikias adds the allegations against Tyndall weren’t made to the California Medical Board until earlier this year after Tyndall requested to be reinstated.
“In hindsight, we should have made this report eight months earlier when he separated from the university,” Nikias wrote, indicating the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles Police Department were recently notified.
LAPD spokeswoman Officer Lizeth Lomeli says there are currently no open investigations of anyone at USC by the department.
The school also investigated complaints against Tyndall back in 2013 but “did not find conclusive evidence of a policy violation,” says Nikias.
During the 2013 investigation, several witnesses, including nurses and medical assistants, were interviewed. Some said they “loved” Tyndall while others described him as “creepy”, according to the Office of Equity and Diversity’s findings.
Investigative Report Alleges Abuse Dating Back to the 90s
An investigative report conducted by the Los Angeles Times months before the school’s acknowledgment of the investigation suggests there were complaints against Tyndall dating back to the 1990s.
The report says Tyndall’s co-workers alleged he inappropriately photographed students’ genitals and that he recently began targeting Chinese students with limited understanding of English and American medical procedures.
Laura LaCorte, the school’s compliance chief, says her review of the photos found no federal or state privacy violations, describing them as “purely clinical” and stating that there “was nothing sexual about them.”
The school also consulted with two medical consultants regarding the allegations, according to the report. While the consultants found his examination methods to be “outdated”, criminal attorneys found there was no crime committed.
The investigative report also shows medical assistants questioned Tyndall’s practice of digital insertion before using a speculum to conduct pelvic exams.
“He would put one finger in and say, ‘Oh, I think it will fit. Let’s put two fingers in,’” said a chaperone who worked with Tyndall for years. Four others familiar with Tyndall’s exams said that while he spoke, he was inappropriately moving his fingers.
All four said he made nearly identical statements to hundreds of women about how tight their muscles were and that they “must be a runner”.
Five chaperones recalled Tyndall making explicit comments regarding sexual intercourse while he was examining patients.
“He would tell young ladies their hymens are intact. ‘Don’t worry about it, your boyfriend’s gonna love it,’” one chaperone recalled Tyndall saying.
During interviews, Tyndall defended his routine use of his fingers during pelvic exams.
“The medical assistants know patients are smiling and that I never cause pain,” he said.
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