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Faculty seeks USC president's ouster over campus gynecologist scandal

A University of Southern California faculty organization is asking school President C.L. Max Nikias to resign amid a ...

Posted: May 25, 2018 5:22 AM
Updated: May 25, 2018 5:22 AM

A University of Southern California faculty organization is asking school President C.L. Max Nikias to resign amid a scandal involving a former campus gynecologist accused of sexual misconduct and using racist language during exams.

The group passed its resolution Wednesday night, voting 24-0 with four abstentions, said Paul Rosenbloom, a computer science professor who is president of the USC Academic Senate.

"We the Academic Senate, as the elected body of the Faculty of the University of Southern California, believe that new leadership is in the best interest of the University now and going forward," Rosenbloom said in a statement.

The day before, Daniella Mohazab became the seventh woman to file suit against Dr. George Tyndall and USC 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," said Gloria Allred, Mohazab's attorney.

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 to law enforcement or state medical authorities at the time.

The physician does not face any criminal charges.

CNN has been unable to reach Tyndall for comment, but he told the 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 executive committee of USC's board of trustees announced Wednesday it will form a special panel and hire outside counsel to "conduct an independent investigation into the misconduct and reporting failures that occurred."

Two hundred professors have signed a letter demanding Nikias stand down over the way abuse allegations against Tyndall were handled.

"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," their letter calling for his resignation reads.

Nikias 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."

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

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

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