USC, ex-school gynecologist face lawsuits over alleged inappropriate touching

Daniella Mohazab is the seventh woman to file suit against Dr. George Tyndall and the University of Southern Californ...

Posted: May 23, 2018 5:05 PM
Updated: May 23, 2018 5:05 PM

Daniella Mohazab is the seventh woman to file suit against Dr. George Tyndall and the University of Southern California. The graduate student and the other women allege Tyndall, a former gynecologist at USC's student health center for nearly 30 years, used racist and inappropriately sexual language during consultations and conducted pelvic examinations with his fingers and didn't wear gloves.

"He made me feel extremely uncomfortable and violated," Mohazab told reporters Tuesday at her attorney's office in Los Angeles, describing a 2016 consultation. "Dr. Tyndall told me to undress from the bottom down, and he stood there watching while I did so."

Tyndall was fired in 2017 for inappropriate behavior, according to USC. University officials said the school reached a settlement with the doctor and did not report him either to law enforcement or state medical authorities at the time.

"Reportedly, USC was aware of Dr. Tyndall's inappropriate conduct before I was even born," Mohazab said. "I am still in shock that USC had heard about Dr. Tyndall's inappropriate conduct and had allowed him to continue practicing."

On Wednesday, the executive committee of USC's board of trustees announced it will form a special panel and hire outside counsel to "conduct an independent investigation into the misconduct and reporting failures that occurred."

Professors urge USC president to step down

A petition is circulating, started by a 2016 grad, calling for the USC president, C.L. Max Nikias, to resign. Two hundred professors have also signed a letter demanding Nikias stand down over the way abuse allegations against Tyndall were handled.

On Tuesday, Mohazab's attorney, Gloria Allred, filed a civil suit against USC and Tyndall in Los Angeles County Superior Court. She's seeking damages for, among other things, sexual battery, negligent hiring and retention, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. "This is just the beginning," Allred said.

"Without a glove, he put two fingers inside me and felt around," Mohazab said. "With a snide look on his face as he opened the packet of lube ... he said this was part of an STD test."

CNN has been unable to reach Tyndall for comment. But he has told Los Angeles Times, "I have never had any sexual urges" toward patients. He also described his examinations as thorough and appropriate. Tyndall told the newspaper his use of fingers had "a legitimate medical purpose" and said some of his comments to patients were misinterpreted.

The allegations about Tyndall's behavior first emerged publicly in a May 16 report from the Los Angeles Times. The paper's investigation, said Mohazab's attorneys, was the moment many of Tyndall's former patients realized what they went through was not a normal gynecological exam.

The physician does not face any criminal charges.

Tyndall asked for his job back earlier this year, according to Nikias, and at that point, the university reported him to state medical officials. After the recent Times investigation, the university contacted the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and was referred to the Los Angeles police. The police department told CNN there are no current, formal investigations.

Todd R. Dickey, USC's senior vice president for administration, told CNN, "In light of newly received patient complaints indicating the extent of George Tyndall's inappropriate conduct, the university has decided to remove Tyndall's direct supervisor and another senior supervisor from the student health center."

Still, some professors have said Nikias "has lost the moral authority to lead the university." Their letter calling for his resignation reads, "In this case, as in prior cases, faced with an ongoing pattern of serious wrongdoing by a powerful university official, the university has kept wrongdoing quiet, settled financially with the wrongdoer in secret, and denied any responsibility on the part of the university."

However, the board of trustees is standing by Nikias, who has written an open letter of apology, saying: "On behalf of the university, I sincerely apologize to any student who may have visited the student health center and did not receive the respectful care each individual deserves."

A hotline has been set up for students who were affected. Nikias also has established the President's Campus Culture Commission to enforce the university's core values and ensure equality.

"We are focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and providing support to those affected," USC said in a statement.

Investigations in 2013 and again in 2016

USC officials issued what they called a "statement of facts" last week in which they detailed an internal investigation into Tyndall in 2013, launched after reports of racist comments by the gynecologist. That investigation ultimately concluded, "There was insufficient evidence to find violation of university policy."

Tyndall was investigated again in 2016, and put on paid leave, after an employee at the medical center reported him to the campus rape crisis center, according to the Times. That investigation focused on inappropriate remarks as well as "the way he conducted pelvic examinations," according to the statement posted to the USC online press room.

The statement said an outside consulting firm "concluded that this examination practice was outdated and not current standard of care." Also, "a box of clinical photos of cervixes and surrounding internal tissue" from 1990-1991 was found during a search of Tyndall's office, the statement said. USC said those photos had "no identifiable patient information."

The USC document also said that in the center's records, there were "eight complaints logged between 2000 and 2014 that were concerning."

According to the statement, the health center's former director "chose to manage those complaints independently." The statement adds, "It is not clear today why the former health center director permitted Tyndall to remain in his position."

That former director, Dr. Larry Neinstein, died in 2016, according to the USC website.

'USC has let me down,' grad student says

Tyndall was fired in June. According to USC's statement, he threatened a lawsuit, and, "Rather than engage in protracted litigation, the university entered into a separation agreement." The school said it did not report him to law enforcement or the Medical Board of California at the time.

In explaining those actions, a university statement says: "USC consulted with several legal experts and medical staff professionals to confirm it did not have a reporting obligation. Although not legally required, in retrospect the university believes out of an abundance of caution, it should have filed a consumer complaint with the Medical Board at the time Dr. Tyndall separated from the university."

Legal experts say such statements could put USC in a precarious legal position. "It clearly acknowledges, as they now know, that they handled it poorly," said Areva Martin, a CNN legal analyst. "I'm sure the lawyers will attempt to use it as a form of admission, an admission they were negligent in the handling of this matter."

Mohazab said her experiences have left her distrustful of doctors. "I trusted USC," she said. "But USC has let me down."

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 43°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 49°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 42°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 43°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 38°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 524367

Reported Deaths: 10807
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson756511496
Mobile40258800
Madison34165498
Tuscaloosa25448445
Montgomery24089574
Shelby23250243
Baldwin20787302
Lee15670166
Calhoun14375313
Morgan14180274
Etowah13716348
Marshall12022220
Houston10427279
Elmore10011202
Limestone9873149
Cullman9512191
St. Clair9508236
Lauderdale9293234
DeKalb8774183
Talladega8131173
Walker7153277
Autauga6793107
Jackson6772110
Blount6556133
Colbert6240132
Coffee5435113
Dale4780111
Russell432139
Franklin421882
Chilton4153110
Covington4084116
Tallapoosa3943149
Escambia390375
Dallas3529150
Chambers3526122
Clarke347660
Marion3084100
Pike306776
Lawrence297696
Winston273272
Bibb256961
Marengo248461
Geneva246475
Pickens233359
Barbour228455
Hale219175
Butler214068
Fayette210560
Henry188344
Cherokee182945
Randolph178741
Monroe174040
Washington165838
Macon156849
Clay150956
Crenshaw149957
Cleburne147141
Lamar139834
Lowndes137853
Wilcox125427
Bullock122140
Conecuh109828
Perry107626
Sumter103332
Coosa100928
Greene91534
Choctaw59024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 837833

Reported Deaths: 12111
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby933421591
Davidson88250926
Knox49926625
Hamilton43501488
Rutherford42422423
Williamson27589215
Sumner23549345
Montgomery19740224
Wilson18547229
Out of TN1797995
Unassigned16778133
Sullivan16266287
Blount15213194
Bradley14670148
Washington14243244
Maury13261170
Sevier13204175
Putnam11193173
Madison10853241
Robertson9627129
Anderson8639171
Hamblen8522171
Greene7746152
Tipton7235104
Coffee6833121
Dickson6740109
Cumberland6586128
Carter6487156
Bedford6439129
Gibson6410144
McMinn637897
Roane6197102
Jefferson6089124
Loudon602469
Lawrence582086
Hawkins5802106
Monroe572495
Warren551881
Dyer5371104
Franklin509488
Fayette493678
Obion450396
Cheatham445954
Cocke444298
Rhea431575
Lincoln430963
Marshall412358
Campbell410562
Weakley403763
Giles396299
Henderson373276
Macon358677
Carroll357782
White356269
Hardin350566
Hardeman346764
Lauderdale314444
Henry312675
Marion310846
Claiborne307373
Scott305745
Overton298161
Wayne294434
Hickman280746
McNairy277254
DeKalb275753
Smith275238
Haywood268461
Grainger259649
Trousdale249122
Morgan246339
Fentress238446
Johnson232238
Bledsoe210111
Chester209651
Crockett201548
Polk200324
Unicoi195249
Cannon189231
Union186534
Grundy178433
Humphreys174622
Lake169626
Sequatchie167028
Benton163440
Decatur157538
Lewis156626
Meigs135124
Stewart131028
Jackson130035
Clay109431
Houston108633
Perry105728
Moore100217
Van Buren83622
Pickett75724
Hancock55712

Community Events