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USC Agrees To $852 Million Settlement To End Sex Abuse Litigation

The University of Southern California has agreed to pay more than $850 million to hundreds of women who were treated by a former campus gynecologist accused of sexual abuse.

The "global settlement" of lawsuits, announced on Thursday, is the biggest sex abuse pay-out in higher education history.

The $852 million settlement puts an end to the civil cases filed in Los Angeles Superior Court between 710 women and USC.

In October 2018, the university agreed to a separate $215-million federal class-action settlement with more than 18,000 women who'd also been treated by the gynecologist, bringing the total cost to more than $1 billion.

The women say George Tyndall — who worked at the school clinic for 30 years and was the only full-time gynecologist — made lewd comments, photographed and groped them during medical examinations.

"I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by the women who trusted him as a physician and appreciate the courage of all who came forward," USC President Carol Folt said in a statement.

Folt was appointed in 2019, shortly after the scandal became public to help the university enact a wave of reforms.

"I do hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall," she added.

Allegations against Tyndall initially surfaced in 2016 when a chaperone nurse reported him for making inappropriate comments to a student patient. That prompted an investigation by USC but Tyndall didn't leave the clinic until 2017. Despite an ongoing investigation that had revealed claims against him dating as far back as the early 2000s, the university gave him a secret payout and he was allowed to exit with a clean record from the medical board.

In 2019, Tyndall was charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office with committing29 criminal felonies while treating student patients at the university health center from 2009 to 2016.

Tyndall, now 74, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

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Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.