US varsity agrees to settle sexual abuse lawsuit

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The University of Southern California (USC) has announced an $852 million settlement to resolve lawsuits from hundreds of women over sexual abuse by the university’s former gynaecologist George Tyndall.

“The USC and the 710 women who filed civil cases in Los Angeles Superior Court involving George Tyndall have reached a global agreement that is fair and reasonable,” Xinhua news agency quoted the university as saying in a statement on Thursday.

This is reportedly the largest sexual abuse settlement in lawsuits against any university all across the US.

Combined with another $215 million class-action settlement approved by a Los Angeles federal judge in 2019, the university has agreed to pay over $1 billion for claims against Tyndall.

Tyndall had worked as the only fultime gyneacologist at the USC student clinic for 27 years.

According to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, complaints about Tyndall’s repeated misconduct toward young female patients started in early 1990s, including improperly photographing students’ genitals, touching women inappropriately during pelvic exams and making sexually suggestive remarks about their bodies.

The university said the settlement “will end this litigation in state court” and the USC Board of Trustees had ratified the settlement.

“I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community. We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall,” said USC President Carol L. Folt in a statement.

“This historic settlement came about through the bravery of hundreds of women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced,” attorney John Manly, whose firm represented 234 of the plaintiffs in the main settlement, was quoted as saying by a local news outlet.

“The enormous size of this settlement speaks to the immense harm done to our clients and the culpability of USC,” the attorney added.

The Los Angeles Times, which first exposed the scandal in 2018, has reported that there was fear that the gynaecologist was targeting the university’s growing population of Chinese students in recent years, as some of those Chinese students had a limited knowledge of the English language and American medical norms.

USC is a leading private research university located in downtown Los Angeles.

A total of 46,000 students were enrolled in the 2020-2021 academic year.

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