US & Canada

George Tyndall: Ex-USC doctor arrested over sex abuse

Undated photo of George Tyndall Image copyright University of Southern California
Image caption Undated photo of George Tyndall
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A former University of Southern California campus gynaecologist has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting 16 female patients.

Los Angeles police took George Tyndall, 72, into custody on Wednesday.

More than 350 women have spoken out about their traumatic experiences as patients of Mr Tyndall during the year-long investigation.

Mr Tyndall, who resigned from his role in 2017, has repeatedly denied all the allegations.

The criminal complaint against Mr Tyndall accuses him of sexually penetrating or touching women - ranging in ages from 17 to 29 - while they were unconscious or while pretending it was for a medical purpose.

The alleged incidents occurred between 2009 and 2016. He faces 29 felony counts for sexual assault and sexual battery by fraud, which could see him spend up to 53 years in prison.

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Media captionWhy it can take sexual assault allegations years to come out

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says police have presented 134 crime reports regarding Mr Tyndall and their investigation is still ongoing.

Mr Tyndall's attorneys said in a statement that their client acted in a medically appropriate fashion and would be "totally exonerated" in court.

Police said Mr Tyndall was armed with a loaded revolver when he was arrested on Wednesday morning outside his apartment, and that he complained of chest pains immediately after.

He is in hospital for treatment, police chief Michael Moore said in a news conference. His bail has been set at $2.1m (£1.6m).

What's the background?

The case arose after the Los Angeles Times published accounts from former and current employees about Mr Tyndall's alleged sexual misconduct as a gynaecologist.

Over the last year, hundreds of women came forward to report misconduct from Mr Tyndall, according to police, though not all cases met the requirements for charging.

The women claim he made lewd comments, photographed and groped them during medical examinations.

Last December, police also found multiple photographs of naked women in a rental storage unit owned by Mr Tyndall.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Tyndall worked at USC for 30 years

The case saw USC's president step down last August amid sharp criticism of how the institution responded to the abuse claims.

Interim President Wanda Austin said in a statement following the physician's arrest: "This situation has been difficult for so many, but I hope today's events will be another step toward healing for former patients and for our entire community."

Ms Austin added that the university has implemented new investigation protocols and has hired new female, board-certified physicians.

The university has also agreed to pay $215m to some 17,000 former patients in a class-action settlement.

Mr Tyndall worked at the university clinic for 30 years, where he was the only full-time gynaecologist. He left the university in 2017 after an internal inquiry found he had made inappropriate remarks to patients.

The Tyndall case sparked new discussions about gynaecology and physician conduct in the exam room.

Some of Mr Tyndall's accusers say they did not even realise he had behaved inappropriately until reading about other women's allegations, according to the LA Times.

Women can request chaperones - usually a nurse - to be in the room during sensitive gynaecology check-ups, but patients may not always know whether a doctor has overstepped.

In the USC case, it was a complaint from a nurse chaperone that ultimately led to Mr Tyndall leaving the university.

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