The U.S. Department of Education Thursday reportedly said the University of Southern California failed to protect students from a school gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of former patients.
“What we have found at USC is shocking and reprehensible,” Kenneth L. Marcus, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement regarding its nearly two-year investigation, according to The Los Angeles Times. “No student should ever have to face the disgusting behavior that USC students had to deal with.”
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the school's “total and complete failure to protect students is heartbreaking and inexcusable.”
In a statement, she thanked former patients for their bravery in speaking out. “We can now work with the university to ensure this never happens to another student on USC’s campus,” she said.
Dr. George Tyndall worked fulltime at the school’s clinic for 27 years, during which he allegedly photographed patients’ genitals, performed improper breast and pelvic exams and made lewd comments to patients.
The department mandated the school change the way it handles sexual harassment cases and undergo three years of federal monitoring. By April, the school must provide a plan to restructure its Title IX office, which bars sex-based discrimination, and improve the handling of sexual harassment complaints.
The 51-page letter to USC President Carol Folt said the school failed to investigate when five women complained about Tyndall between 2000 and 2009 – three in writing – and one woman's report that said Tyndall penetrated her with two fingers after she told him not to, according to The Times.
The letter also said the school didn’t investigate after discovering more than 200 photographs of patients’ genitals in his office and allowed him to see patients for another day and a half. Despite numerous complaints, the school allowed Tyndall to stay on until 2016 when he left with a financial payout and a clean bill from the state medical board.
“A three-year monitoring period is typical,” Brett Sokolow, the president of the Assn. of Title IX Administrators, said, but “They save that for the schools that are truly asleep at the wheel or stepped over the line.”
In 2016, Penn State was fined $2.4 million over ex-coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse and Michigan State University had to pay a record $4.5 million over Dr. Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 women and girls.
This week a judge approved a $215 million class-action settlement for an estimated 18,000 former patients of Tyndall.
Tyndall has pleaded not guilty to charges he sexually abused 16 former patients, according to The Times.