A gynecologist who worked for the student health clinic of the University of Southern California is facing a wave of accusations of sexual misconduct from female students, particularly Chinese nationals, for allegedly taking advantage of their limited understanding of English and American healthcare norms.
Dr. George Tyndall, 71, attended to thousands of female students at the Engemann Student Health Center for almost 30 years.
Within that period, he was repeatedly accused of problematic behavior, ranging from the questionable photographing of genitals to inappropriate touching during pelvic exams.
Despite the stream of complaints, Tyndall managed to continue working at the clinic without issue until his suspension in 2016, when a nurse stormed the university’s rape crisis center.
Following an internal investigation, the university administration then allowed him to resign in private last summer, handing out an undisclosed amount in compensation.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, a Chinese graduate student who saw Tyndall in 2016 recalled the doctor ordering her, through a nurse, to remove all her clothes for an exam.
“It’s not right. Why do I have to take off all my clothes?” she thought to herself.
Tyndall, however, denied the story and suspected that clinic staff was conspiring against her.
“No. Impossible. Never happened,” he told the Times.
Chelsea Wu, who visited Tyndall as a sophomore, had never seen a gynecologist before.
“I was blindly trusting of doctors. I pretty much followed whatever they say,” she told the Times in a follow-up report.
Wu recalled how the doctor probed about her sex life and commented about her pelvic muscles as his fingers went inside her.
She added that he also took out a map of China and sought for her opinion on its English translations.
Wu, who was 19 at the time, said, “It took 15 or 20 minutes, longer than my pelvic exam. I didn’t understand why I was explaining this to my doctor because it was totally unrelated to my health.”
Chia-an Wen, a current graduate student, claimed that Tyndall asked her how often she had anal and oral sex with her boyfriend in a past appointment.
“I felt my face heat up when he asked. It weirded me out and I was confused why he was asking. I felt because he was a doctor I had to answer,” she told the Times.
Tyndall is facing at least 85 complaints since USC sent out a special phone line to address concerns related to him.
While Tyndall’s alleged behavior has been a campus nightmare for years, this appears to be the first time the university is shedding light on the controversy — neither his patients nor the Medical Board of California were informed when he resigned.
However, the university reported Tyndall to the medical board on March 9, just after the doctor requested to be reinstated.
In response to the scandal, U.S.C. President C.L. Max Nikias, whose two daughters attended the institution, said that Tyndall’s conduct was “a profound breach of trust.”
“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,” he addressed the USC community in an email Tuesday.
USC has 45,500 students enrolled in academic year 2017-18. Of this number, 5,400 are from mainland China, according to Xinhua.
The controversy alarmed the Consulate General of China in Los Angeles, which called for a serious investigation.
“We noticed the report and expressed our deep concern over the situation. We request USC to take serious step to investigate the issue and protect Chinese students from illegal violation,” a spokesperson said.
Tyndall, who renewed his medical license in January, does not plan to retire anytime soon.