C.L. Max Nikias, the president of the University of Southern California (USC), will step down following a scandal involving sexual abuse of students at the university’s health center by a gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall. The decision of the resignation of Mr. Nikias has come in the wake of the protests from students, alumni, and faculty claiming that he had failed in his responsibility to protect the students and staff from pervasive and repeated sexual harassment. Under the leadership of Mr. Nikias, the university witnessed strong growth since 2010, and completed a $6bn fund-raising effort. But his position came under a cloud since last year for weak handling of multiple scandals. Last summer, it was reported that the former dean of the university’s medical school had indulged in drugs on campus and invited prostitutes for parties. The person who replaced him was also forced to step down last fall for having settled a case of sexual harassment with a former researcher.
Lawsuits Filed against USC
Five female victims have filed lawsuits against USC alleging sexual abuse by the university’s former gynecologist Dr. Tyndall. The lawsuits claim that the abuse occurred during medical examinations, and point out the university’s failure to protect students. More lawsuits are likely to be filed, indicating a growing likelihood of large financial settlements in the case. Another lawsuit filed by four women who have not been named accuses Dr. Tyndall of being a serial sexual predator. The lawsuit also puts the blame on the University for deliberately and actively covering up the predatory actions of Dr. Tyndall for years.
Questions against the University Leadership
The scandal broke following an investigation published by The Los Angeles Times, which accused Dr. George Tyndall of sexually abusing his patients at the university for years. The case led to sharp questions regarding the conduct of the university’s senior leadership. A students-led petition demanded resignation of the university president, Mr. Nikias, who has now agreed to step down from his post.
Details of the Lawsuits
The two lawsuits provide shocking details about the scale of alleged sexual abuse and sexually offensive comments made by Dr. Tyndall over several years. One of the plaintiffs said that she had undergone a humiliating medical examination by the gynecologist Dr. Tyndall who penetrated her with a full hand. Another plaintiff stated that he groped her breasts and went on to ask sexually inappropriate questions. A third plaintiff said that Dr. Tyndall had groped her complete naked body as well as asking for her to engage with him in various sexual acts.
Allegations of Cover-Up by the University
All the complaints allege that the university made a broad effort to cover up the scandal and ensured that the allegations of the victims did not reach the public. While the accusations against Dr. Tyndall date back to 1990s, the university allowed him to continue as a gynecologist at the campus health center until as recently as 2016.
We have heard that story before. Just like Harvey Weinstein, female gymnastics, and the list continues. Finally, Dr. Tyndall was suspended following a complaint made by a nurse. But after a year-long investigation, he was allowed to retire quietly along with a financial settlement. According to legal experts, the university’s effort to put a rug over the scandal is what has now backfired on them.
Contact a Dedicated Sexual Harassment Attorney in California
Makarem & Associates has a team of compassionate and knowledgeable sexual harassment lawyers in California who are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of the victims.
If you have suffered sexual abuse or harassment in any form at your workplace or institution, call Makarem & Associates today at 310-312-0299 or email at [email protected].