How The George Tyndall Scandal Affected The USC Institution
The Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting was awarded to the Los Angeles Times for the series of investigative attempts and articles that they have published surrounding the George Tyndall Scandal, the USC gynecologist who was accused of sexual harassment of hundreds of students.
USC is a private institution; thus, its records are typically off limits to reporters who are attempting to unveil internal affairs. There have been a lot of persuading and convincing to overcome this significant obstacle in the field of investigative journalism. On another note, administrators and clinic employees are afraid to lose their jobs considering the fact that USC provides excellent retirement plans and health insurance packages. Moreover, outstanding employees can even secure free tuition for themselves or for their children; these are the perks that they do not want to jeopardize.
Uncovering the Story of Dr. George Tyndall
Stories like these are typically a lot of work. However, for the George Tyndall Scandal, this all began in the early months of 2018. Harriet Ryan, an investigative reporter, received a mysterious phone call from a blocked number. The caller introduced himself as someone who had worked on USC investigations. He told Ryan to look into USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall.
The mysterious caller refused to provide a callback number, a name, or other specific details about George Tyndall. Harriet Ryan, alongside another reporter by the name of Matt Hamilton, was so intrigued that they began researching every possible document on the USC gynecologist. They started with browsing through public records. They found out that Dr. George Tyndall was a problem doctor. There were no documents on the said USC gynecologist.
Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton decided that their next steps were to compile a list of current as well as former USC clinic employees through LinkedIn. They also went through archived staff directories. Eventually, they had started asking around for any suspicious stories about Dr. George Tyndall.
In their attempt to uncover the true story behind the USC gynecologist, they realized that a great number of people had troubling stories about Tyndall. It was pretty clear that no one was willing to risk having to lose their job. As a result, uncovering the story became a challenge.
Alongside Paul Pringle, Ryan and Hamilton kept on pushing with their original plan. They continued their search for documents which will serve as proof. Furthermore, they never stopped asking around for what truly happened with Tyndall and his patients; this went on for a few more months.
Ryan, Hamilton, and Pringle managed to ask about 20 current and former USC employees to talk on an anonymous basis. There were even many former patients who wanted to share their experiences with Dr. George Tyndall.
The stories heard by the reporters was terrifying. Chelsea Wu was 19 and a sophomore at USC. She explained that she tends to blindly trust doctors and would typically do anything they ask her to do. During a 2016 appointment with Dr. George Tyndall, the USC gynecologist kept on asking Wu questions about her sex life. He even showed prolonged interest in her Chinese heritage. Moreover, he also showed interest in her pelvic muscle as he thrust his fingers inside of Wu. The student shrugged off the experience until she read an article on LA Times detailing how the USC gynecologist have had reports about his inappropriate behavior toward patients.
In 2016, a frustrated nurse reported her experience at the Rape Crisis Center resulting in certain actions from the USC administrators forcing Tyndall out of his current role. Even then, USC lawyers have granted him a secret exit package that allowed him to leave his post without causing too much controversy, a financial payout, and a clean record from the Medical Board of California.
How the George Tyndall Scandal Affected Everyone
By this time, Ryan and Hamilton have already garnered several anonymous accounts. They decided to confront Tyndall followed by an intense interview with the USC administrators. Of course, there have been obstacles to overcome in this report. This was not particularly the same as the usual reports on sexual abuse because Ryan and Hamilton did not have the advantage of using police records, public documents, and other court filings — because none existed that specifically talked about the sexual harassment done by Dr. George Tyndall on his patients.
Moreover, there have been many individuals that have been impacted by the story. USC is considered as one of the most important private Los Angeles institutions. It is responsible for over 53,000 jobs as well as a significant influence in religion’s politics, economic development, and healthcare. This type of scandal can affect the whole USC system, which is why everyone involved in the investigation have become cautious in every step they took.
How the public view USC is very critical. One would understand why The Time’s investigation was responsible for several projects on the improvement of the institution’s ethical values. The Dr. George Tyndall Scandal even triggered many local, state, and of course, federal investigations that allowed several women to seek justice as well as financial compensation for the sexual abuse that they have suffered at USC.
Alumnae also went various interviews with a task force of over a dozen police detectives around the country. This was considered as one of the largest LAPD sex crimes investigation with only a single suspect. Several detectives referred more than 100 cases to the appointed district attorney. As of December 2018, a grand jury is hearing evidence.
What Happens to USC and Dr. George Tyndall?
The state medical board have decided to launch an investigation on the matter and is trying to strip George Tyndall of his license to practice. On another note, the U.S. Department of Education also opened an investigation as to whether or not USC have concealed evidence from regulators on a previous federal inquiry into how USC handled Title IX complaints.
In fact, about 650 women have filed a suit against the USC gynecologist and the USC institution, alleging that USC has failed to protect them from sexual harassment. In October 2018, USC has agreed to pay a total of $ 215 million to resolve any issues concerning the federal class-action suit, which has been approved in court.
In addition, the USC President resigned amidst scandal, and trustees pledged to have a wholesale reboot on what was known as a broken USC culture. Provost as well as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs by the name of Dr. Michael Quick, along with the Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs and Professionalism by the name of Carol Mauch Amir, will all step down from their current USC roles in June.
To ensure that the future USC president will be nothing like the previous one, the administrators have hired a woman which will function as an interim president. Interim President Wanda Austin will also hold listening sessions to determine what kind of president the USC body wants, as well as the characteristics, values, and beliefs that an ideal USC president should have.
Nonetheless, there have been a few updates concerning several faculty members of USC stepping down from their current roles in the institution. In April 2016, Carmen Puliafito stepped down from his role as the dean of the USC Keck School of Medicine after it was investigated and found out that he had partied with underage girls as well as provided his girlfriend, who was a prostitute, with drugs. Moreover, he was also stripped of his license to practice medicine as ordered by the California Medical Board.
In August 2018, it was revealed that former California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was hired and fired by the USC as one of their faculty members. There was an ongoing criminal investigation at the time concerning a suspicious $ 100,000 donation from a campaign that was funded by his father by the name of Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor. All of these contributed to his case including the fact that he was hired by an institution like USC despite not having a graduate degree.
After the Dr. George Tyndall Scandal, the USC’s long docile faculty will be reborn and replaced with a feisty group dedicated to ensuring that the administrators will be held accountable for any scandals that may arise in the future. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is to avoid instances like that of the Dr. George Tyndall Scandal.