martes, diciembre 5

George Tyndall, U.S.C. Gynecologist Accused of Sex Abuse, Found Dead

George Tyndall, the former University of Southern California gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients dating as far back as the 1990s, was found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

Dr. Tyndall, 76, who was expected to face a criminal trial next year, was found in his bed by a friend, said Leonard Levine, the lawyer. The cause of death was unclear.

After years of accusations from patients and medical staff members who said Dr. Tyndall had inappropriately touched young women during medical examinations, five women came forward in May 2018. U.S.C. settled multiple legal claims in 2021, agreeing to pay more than $1.1 billion to hundreds of his former patients.

Mr. Levine said that his client had “adamantly denied” all charges against him, adding that Dr. Tyndall had “looked forward to his day in court.”

Allegations that, for years, Dr. Tyndall had abused patients visiting the university’s student health clinic first surfaced in 2018 in a report published by The Los Angeles Times, which won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. The report set off an uproar on campus that led to the resignation of the university’s president at the time, C.L. Max Nikias, just a year after Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, the popular dean of U.S.C.’s medical school, was fired over accusations of using drugs and partying with prostitutes.

Dozens of women swiftly sued the university, accusing it of having failed to protect them from sexual abuse and harassment by Dr. Tyndall.

Just over a year later, in June 2019, Dr. Tyndall was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting 16 young women who had visited the university’s health center for annual exams or other treatment between 2009 and 2016.

Despite years of allegations against Dr. Tyndall, he did not face retribution until 2016, when a nurse complained about him to the U.S.C. campus rape crisis center. Dr. Tyndall was then suspended, and he retired from U.S.C. in June 2017 under a separation agreement, university officials said at the time.

U.S.C. later faced criticism for not immediately reporting the accusations against Dr. Tyndall to the Medical Board of California when they were first brought to the university’s attention in the 1990s. Officials at the university, citing a personnel matter, said at the time that it had no legal obligation to report the findings of an internal investigation to the state medical board, which investigates doctors accused of misconduct.

A spokeswoman for the university did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment about Dr. Tyndall’s death.

Dr. Tyndall had not been practicing as a doctor, Mr. Levine said, adding that he believed Dr. Tyndall had given up his medical license as part of a civil settlement.

John Manly, one of the lawyers who represented more than 200 people in a civil case against U.S.C., said in a statement on Thursday that Dr. Tyndall’s death “before he was tried represents a complete failure of the justice system in Los Angeles.”

A criminal case against Dr. Tyndall was pending for almost five years and was expected to go to trial sometime next year, Mr. Manly said, adding that George Gascón, the Los Angeles County district attorney, had “failed his victims, which number in the thousands.”

“Not only was Tyndall allowed to escape justice for five years after his arrest,” Mr. Manly said, “but U.S.C.’s secrets that he alone holds died with him.”

Audry L. Nafziger, who was among those who had accused Dr. Tyndall of abuse, said on Thursday that she had been concerned that he would die before a trial, given his age.

“This eventuality has been on my mind for some time,” Ms. Nafziger, now a sex crimes prosecutor in Ventura County, Calif., said in an interview. “It’s just really sad that we’re not going to get justice.”

The slow pace of the criminal case had also been a concern, Ms. Nafziger said.

“Why did it take this long to get to this stage?” she said. “It’s very unusual. Why was no one else ever investigated at U.S.C.?”

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Thursday that it understood “the deep disappointment and frustration felt by the victims.”

“At the same time, we know that the prosecutors assigned to this case worked tirelessly to seek justice for the victims,” the office said. “Sadly, our system oftentimes moves at a slow pace, especially when the courts were forced to grind to a halt during an unprecedented global pandemic. None of this will change the incredible harm that the victims have suffered.”