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USC agrees to $852 million payout in sex abuse lawsuit

USC has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion for claims against 74-year-old Dr. George Tyndall, who worked at the school for nearly 30 years.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this March 12, 2019 file photo, people pose for photos in front of the iconic Tommy Trojan statue on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. USC will phase in free tuition for students from families with an annual income of $80,000 or less, USC President Carol L. Folt announced Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. As part of the initiative, ownership of a home will not be counted in determining a student's financial need. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

LOS ANGELES — Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of sexual assault. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

The University of Southern California has agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who have accused the college’s longtime campus gynecologist of sexual abuse, the victims’ lawyers announced Thursday.

It’s believed to be a record amount for such a lawsuit. When combined with an earlier settlement of a separate class-action suit, USC has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion for claims against Dr. George Tyndall, who worked at the school for nearly three decades.

Tyndall, 74, faces 35 criminal counts of alleged sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2016 at the university’s student health center. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.

Hundreds of women came forward to report their allegations to police but some of the cases fell outside the 10-year statute of limitations, while others did not rise to the level of criminal charges or lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute. Still, he faces up to 64 years in prison if convicted.

The $852 million civil settlement is believed to be the largest sexual abuse settlement against any university, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, as well as the largest personal injury settlement against any college or university. The lawyers say no confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements were attached.

Tyndall’s attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

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In 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar. That settlement was considered the largest at the time, far surpassing the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse.

Separately, USC earlier agreed to pay $215 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that applies to about 18,000 women who were patients of Tyndall’s. The individual payouts to those victims range from $2,500 to $250,000, and were given regardless of whether the women formally accused Tyndall of harassment or assault. The final payouts are expected to be issued this month.

Allegations against Tyndall first surfaced in 2018 in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed that the doctor had been the subject of complaints of sexual misconduct at USC dating back to the 1990s.

He wasn’t suspended until 2016, when a nurse reported him to a rape crisis center. He was able to quietly resign with a large payout the next year.

Tyndall surrendered his medical license in September 2019, records show.

Credit: AP
FILE - This May 22, 2018 file photo shows the University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles. USC records reveal experts who evaluated a campus gynecologist after years of complaints reported there was evidence he preyed on Asian students and had signs of "psychopathy." The Los Angeles Times reports the report was among records concerning Dr. George Tyndall made public Thursday, May 23, 2019, by a judge. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)