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Ex-USC Gynecologist Accused of Sex Misconduct Found Dead

Ex-USC Gynecologist Accused of Sex Misconduct Found Dead

The University of Southern California (USC) campus is seen in Los Angeles on March 6, 2007. (David McNew/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

10/6/2023

Updated: 10/6/2023

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LOS ANGELES—George Tyndall, a former longtime University of Southern California (USC) campus gynecologist who was awaiting trial on sex-related charges involving 16 patients who accused him of inappropriate behavior under the guise of medical exams, was found dead in his Los Angeles home, one of his attorneys said Oct. 5.
Defense attorney Leonard Levine said a close friend who talked with Mr. Tyndall every day was unable to reach him, used a key to get into his Los Angeles condominium, where he lived alone, and found the 76-year-old man unresponsive Wednesday.
“We’re 99 percent sure it was natural causes,” Mr. Levine said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that no autopsy will be done on Mr. Tyndall because the Los Angeles Police Department had reported it as a natural death.
Mr. Tyndall’s attorney said his client “desperately wanted to go to trial and that’s where the issues of guilt or innocence should be resolved.” He said his client had planned to testify and “declare his innocence.”
Mr. Tyndall’s defense team will seek the dismissal of the case once a copy of his death certificate is available, Mr. Levine said.
Mr. Tyndall was ordered Aug. 11 to stand trial on 18 felony counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person—charges that allege the women were “unconscious of the nature of the act” and that it served “no professional purpose”—along with nine felony counts of sexual battery by fraud.
The criminal complaint alleges that the crimes occurred between 2009 and 2016.
The women had gone to USC’s student health center for annual examinations or other treatment while Tyndall was working there.
Eight charges involving five other women were dismissed earlier because four of them opted not to proceed and one could not be contacted.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Mr. Tyndall’s alleged victims in a civil lawsuit, said in a statement that the news of Mr. Tyndall’s death is a “shock” to them.
“Previously, they were happy that he would have to face justice at his trial. If he was convicted of the numerous felonies for which he was charged, many victims wanted to provide a victim impact statement so that Dr. Tyndall would understand the harm that they suffered as a result of his crimes against them when they were his patients and he was their OB/GYN at USC,” Ms. Allred said, noting that his death “means that he will never have to face his victims in a criminal trial.”
Mr. Tyndall had been set to appear Oct. 13 at a hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. The defense had been planning to ask the judge then to lower Mr. Tyndall’s $1.3 million bail to $250,000 and to free him from electronic monitoring, given the dismissal of eight charges involving the other five women.
“There’s a lot of burden with respect to this and he’s not a threat to anyone and he’s not practicing medicine,” one of Mr. Tyndall’s lawyers, Andrew Flier, said after an Aug. 25 hearing in which Mr. Tyndall pleaded not guilty to the charges. “Literally the doctor has been a prisoner within his own house and we don’t think that’s fair, especially at this part of the proceedings.”
One of the alleged victims asked the judge to “expedite the process as much as possible.”
“We’ve been waiting a long time to see justice,” she said in August, noting that it has been five years since a Los Angeles Times article was published about Mr. Tyndall.
She told reporters outside court that she wants the other alleged victims to know that “our day will come, justice will come. We will see Tyndall tried and accounted for. He will go to court and he will go to jail.”
Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller told the judge during an Aug. 11 hearing that Mr. Tyndall was employed at a prestigious university and that the patients—often as young as 18, 19 or 20—“trust in this guy” and “believe what he is doing is appropriate.”
“That’s how he gets away with this. ... In their mind, they think what’s being done is correct,” the prosecutor said, adding that Mr. Tyndall’s patients were “unable to resist” because they were not aware of the nature of what Mr. Tyndall was doing.
Mr. Levine countered that many patients were not comfortable with the way Mr. Tyndall spoke to them, but said he believed their perception of Mr. Tyndall changed to the acts being viewed as “sexual in nature” rather than a standard gynecological examination after a Los Angeles Times article about alleged wrongdoing by the former campus gynecologist.
The defense lawyer told the judge that he believed the investigation into the alleged crimes was “totally lacking,” saying that the defense maintains that the examinations were done for a legitimate medical purpose.
In March 2021, attorneys representing hundreds of women who claim they were sexually abused by Mr. Tyndall announced an $852 million settlement of lawsuits against the university, describing the resolution as the largest of its type ever against a university.
In January 2020, 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 Mr. Tyndall.
The settlement provides all class members—about 17,000 former patients who received women’s health services from Mr. 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.
Attorneys for some victims have argued that following an internal investigation of complaints against Mr. Tyndall in 2016, the university paid Mr. Tyndall a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign.
USC officials had repeatedly denied allegations of a cover-up relating to Tyndall and have said that in response to the scandal, new protocols were implemented at its student health center to ensure any complaints are investigated and resolved by appropriate university officials and authorities. The university also said it has hired female, board-certified physicians and introduced patient education materials about sensitive examinations.
After the March 2021 settlement, USC President Carol Folt released a statement in which she said, “I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community. We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall.”
Mr. Tyndall surrendered his medical license in September 2019, according to records from the Medical Board of California.
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