gavel

University of Southern California agrees to pay $1.1 billion to patients abused by campus gynecologist

March 25, 2021
George Tyndall was the sole full-time gynecologist at the student health clinic from 1989 until 2016.

The University of Southern California has agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion to former patients of campus gynecologist George Tyndall, the largest sex abuse payout in higher education history.

The Los Angeles Times reports the huge sum was disclosed in Los Angeles Superior Court as lawyers for a final group of 710 women suing the university told a judge they had settled their claims for $852 million.

USC previously agreed to pay thousands of other alumnae and students $215 million in a 2018 federal class-action settlement. A group of about 50 other cases were settled for an amount that has not been made public.

The sole full-time gynecologist at the student health clinic from 1989 until 2016, Tyndall was accused of preying on a generation of USC women. After The Times exposed his troubled history at the university three years ago, the 74-year-old was stripped of his medical license and arrested. He has pleaded not guilty to dozens of sexual assault charges and is awaiting trial.

USC President Carol Folt, who was appointed in 2019 to reform the university in the wake of the scandal, said in a letter to the school community that she hoped the settlement “provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall.”

The USC settlement dwarfs recent payouts in other university scandals. Michigan State University paid $500 million in connection with Larry Nasser’s sexual abuse of gymnasts and others, and Penn State settled claims related to Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse for more than $109 million.

The total $1.1-billion price tag reflected several factors. A 2019 state law temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for certain sexual assault lawsuits, allowing women to sue over appointments with Tyndall stretching back to the 1990s.

The sheer number of potential victims, some 17,000 women treated by Tyndall over three decades, also made a massive settlement inevitable.

Attorneys also had unearthed evidence that university officials knew for decades of problems with the physician and failed to remove him.

The $852 million settlement will be paid out over two years. USC said the money will come from insurance proceeds as well as financial reserves, the deferment of capital projects, the sale of some “non-essential assets” and belt tightening.

The 710 women who were part of Thursday’s settlement will receive an average payment of $1.2 million, although the exact distribution of the money was expected to vary by individual allegations.

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