USC Under Fire: Faculty Demands Resignation of School’s President over Mishandling of Sexual Abuse Allegations

Reuters Reports:

More than 200 professor of the University of Southern California called for the USC’s top official to resign over the school’s handling of complaints that a health clinic gynecologist sexually abused his patients.

The demand for USC President C.L. Max Nikias to step down was in open letter to the school’s Board of Trustees as USC faces litigation, which accuses Dr. George Tyndall of misconduct and the university of complicity and negligence.

Tyndall resigned from the university last year after internal inquiry found his pelvic examinations to be beyond accepted medical standards and that he had harassed patients.

More than 2,200 students, alumni and others at USC, a prestigious private higher education school, signed a separate online petition calling for Nikias’ ouster.

The university has failed to properly act on eight complaints made against Tyndall between 2000 and 2014. Several former patients have filed civil lawsuits, and one new accusation dates back to 1991.

A hotline and special website that USC set up recently have received about 200 more reports from concerned patients.

The Chinese government last week voiced “deep concern” over reports that many of Tyndall’s alleged victims were Chinese students.

In interviews with the L.A. Times, Tyndall, who is 71, has denied wrongdoing and defended his medical exams.

USC brought the crisis to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which referred the matter on May 9 to the Los Angeles Police “to investigate potential criminal misconduct.”

USC Board of Trustees Chair John Mork called the reports surrounding Tyndall “distressing.” Nikias acknowledged the “faculty’s anger and frustration” in a statement, and “committed to working with them” to implement new action plan to address the crisis and to “change the culture.”

USC President Nikias came under fire last year over scandals of chronic drug abuse by former USC medical school dean and allegations of sexual harassment by a medical school adviser. “He has lost the moral authority to lead the university,” the faculty letter said. “The university administration’s actions have been wrong at every turn.”

The letter pointed out that the university allowed Tyndall to quietly resign last year, following the inquiry, without reporting him to the state medical board.  USC said it initially declined to report Tyndall to the medical board because he stated his intention then to retire, but USC did report him after he sought reinstatement in March.

“In hindsight, we should have made this report eight months earlier when he separated from the university,” Nikias said in a letter to the campus. “It is true that our system failed, but it is important that you know that this claim of a cover-up is patently false,” USC Provost Michael Quick said in a message.

Eight complaints reported in the early 2000s to a former health center director, who has since died, were uncovered during the course of an investigation the university opened in 2016.

That probe was launched, and Tyndall was suspended, after a staff member at the student health center reported Tyndall had made sexually inappropriate comments to patients.

Source Reuters:  Steve Gorman in Los Angeles

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