After a lengthy Los Angeles police investigation, a former University of Southern California gynecologist was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexually assaulting 16 young female students.
George Tyndall, M.D., who resigned in 2017 after the university’s internal investigation into allegations from hundreds of women that the gynecologist sexually abused or harassed them while treating them at the university’s student health center, was arrested outside his home, according to the Associated Press.
Police took him into custody and found a loaded revolver in his possession, according to the news service. Tyndall, 72, who has denied any wrongdoing, was hospitalized after he said he was experiencing chest pains following his arrest, the AP said.
Tyndall was charged with sexually assaulting the 16 women over a seven-year period when he worked at the university, according to (PDF) the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He was charged with 18 counts of sexual penetration and 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud, both felonies. He will be arraigned at a later date, the DA’s office said. Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at over $2 million. If convicted, Tyndall faces a possible prison sentence of up to 53 years.
The victims ranged in age from 17 to 29 and went to the student health center for annual exams or other treatment, the DA’s office said.
The police investigation is continuing, but Wednesday brought the first criminal charges in a case in which USC has offered to pay $215 million to settle potentially thousands of claims from women who say Tyndall abused them, the AP said.
In a letter to the USC community, interim university president Wanda M. Austin reacted to Tyndall’s arrest and said the university has cooperated with authorities in their investigation. “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,” she said, describing changes made at the student health center, including new protocols to ensure any complaints are investigated and resolved.
In a separate case, another college gynecologist, James Heaps, formerly of the University of California, Los Angeles, appeared in court Wednesday on charges of sexual misconduct involving two patients, the AP reported. He pleaded not guilty and a preliminary hearing was set for July 30.
On a website set up following the charges against Heaps, UCLA said it investigated the doctor in 2018 for sexual misconduct and improper billing practices and reported him to California’s medical board, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and law enforcement, as well as terminating his employment.