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Verdicts & Settlements

University of Southern California Proposes $215 Million Settlement in Student Sex Abuse Case

— October 24, 2018

While the University of Southern California settled a sex abuse lawsuit for $215 million on Friday, more women are coming forward to allege abuse against the school’s former head gynecologist.

The New York Times reports that the settlement has yet to be approved by a court. It’s among the largest reached by a university facing sexual misconduct allegations.

However, the Times notes that the settlement isn’t likely to end the University of Southern California’s legal woes. Nearly 500 other women have sued the school, claiming they were mistreated by gynecologist George Tyndall.

Around 90 women came forward last week alone, alleging that Dr. Tyndall had molested them at the student health center. Many say their complaints went unaddressed.

Officials purportedly wrote off claims against Tyndall by saying, “We’ll look into it.”

One woman’s attorney said USC has yet to implement any changes in its student safety and healthcare protocol. She said the settlement was “just a public relations effort.”

Under the terms of the tentative settlement, women who saw Dr. Tyndall in the three decades he worked with USC are eligible to receive $2,500 payments, regardless of whether they were abused by him. Women with the worst claims can receive up to $20,000.

Victims who submit themselves to a psychological screening can receive a maximum award of $250,000.

Michigan State University recently settled a similar sex abuse lawsuit for over half a billion dollars. Image by Ryan J. Farrick.

The Times says that Tyndall received misconduct complaints since at least 2000. But it wasn’t until 2017 that an internal investigation concluded that the gynecologist had mistreated his patients.

Rather than being fired or facing a broader set of consequences, Tyndall settled with school, agreeing to resign in return for a payout.

Attorney John Manly, who’s representing 180 former Tyndall patients, said the $215 million payout “does nothing other than sow confusion and deceit.” Manly says he received ‘dozens’ of calls from concerned clients, many of whom were confused and concerned about USC’s offer.

“Now that has turned to anger,” Manly said. “The idea that you can go into your doctor’s office at 17 or 18 years old and he brutally sexually assaults you and offends your body and psyche, and that you can then declare victory if you get $2,500, is absurd. But I am not surprised, because sadly what the university cares about is money and public relations.

“They are mistaken if they think this will go away,” Manly said.

Tuesday alone saw another fourteen women file lawsuits against the university and Dr. Tyndall. The lawyer representing the group called the proposed settlement “grossly inadequate.”

Women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred is representing 50 clients spread between three suits. She says she’ll continue pressing the case in state court, to “determine what USC knew and when they knew it.”

“USC, not just their insurance carriers, should bear the financial consequences for their alleged failure to act properly to remove or discipline Dr. Tyndall when complaints were initially made,” Allred said.


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