Tyndall, accused of molesting hundreds of patients, was allowed to secretly leave USC with some benefits intact.
Last week, a federal judge approved a $215-million class action settlement between the University of California and former patients of the school’s gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall.
The settlement, writes The Los Angeles Times, provides financial relief and recompense for the approximately 17,000 women who saw Tyndall in the physician’s three-decades-long career. Utilizing a tiered pay-out scale, patients would be eligible to receive anywhere between $2,500 and $250,000 each.
The amount, adds the Times, would depend on the severity of Tyndall’s misconduct in each encounter as well as women’s willingness to confidentially detail wrongdoing. To qualify for larger awards, victims would also have submit written statements or subject themselves to interviews.
But the settlement isn’t likely the end of USC’s legal woes—the preliminary agreement, approved by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, is but one lawsuit among many. Nearly 1,000 other women are pursuing their own claims against the university and Tyndall in state court.
Their attorneys, along with some other advocates, have criticized the class-action agreement as lacking.
In a USA Today article, opinion contributor Brennan Heil described her own encounter with Tyndall.
“Tyndall made crude comments, touched me inappropriately and molested me. He prodded me and made me yell in pain. His behavior was so inappropriate and abhorrent that the nurse-chaperon announced that she felt uncomfortable and left the room,” Heil recounts. “She left me half naked and alone on the exam table.”
Heil says it took her months to recover from what she perceived to be abuse. It wasn’t until she was overseas, doing a study-abroad in London, that she came across an L.A. Times article unraveling the scandal.
“The Los Angeles Times had reported on an USC investigation that found [Tyndall’s] examinations amounted to sexual harassment,” Heil writes. “In a secret deal, the university allowed him to resign and receive a payout. The news was devastating and I was immediately reminded of what he did to me – my reaction was visceral.”
Heil, not surprisingly, is one among the many women who have criticized the settlement and USC’s continued culpability. According to Heil, the University of Southern California also hired a lobbying firm to campaign against AB1510, a California bill that’d give victims of sexual assault a one-year window to report claims outside the current statute of limitations.
Nevertheless, USC interim President Wanda Austin says the settlement marks an “important step forward in healing.”
“The settlement provides every affected individual the opportunity for a fair and respectful resolution, and it contains additional reforms that will build upon the impactful changes we have already made to strengthen our university,” Austin said.
Although Tyndall’s name is part of the settlement, the approved agreement lets him escape without having to accept liability or admit wrongdoing.
He still faces an ongoing criminal investigation, but the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office hasn’t yet decided whether it will press charges.