A campus gynaecologist for a top California university who had been charged with sexually abusing patients has been found dead at his home, his lawyer said on Thursday.
George Tyndall had been due to stand trial over claims he assaulted unconscious patients at the prestigious University of Southern California’s student health centre multiple times between 2009 and 2016.
He allegedly targeted minority students – including many from the university’s large Asian student population.
Tyndall, 76, had denied the charges, even as the university agreed to pay more than US$1 billion to hundreds of women who had made accusations against him.
Lawyer Leonard Levine said Tyndall had been found unresponsive in his Los Angeles apartment on Wednesday by a friend who had used a key to get in after being unable to make contact.
“We’re 99 per cent sure it was natural causes,” Levine said, but added that an autopsy would probably be carried out to determine the cause of death.
Tyndall “desperately wanted to go to trial and that’s where the issues of guilt or innocence should be resolved”, Levine said, adding that his client had planned to testify and “declare his innocence.”
The university reached agreements totalling US$852 million in 2021, on top of US$215 million resulting from an earlier federal class action in 2018.
Tyndall had been accused of abuse by hundreds of women patients during medical examinations over the course of his 30-year career, in a scandal that engulfed the university.
Accusations, ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, dated as far back as 1990. The youngest accuser was aged 17.
The doctor was accused of taking photos of patients’ genitals, groping their breasts and making lewd remarks about their physiques, as well as racist and homophobic comments.
Thousands of former patients sued the university for failing to adequately respond to the allegations against Tyndall, claiming that the institution was aware of the doctor’s actions but continued to allow him access to students.
Tyndall was not investigated by USC officials until 2016, and was allowed to retire under an amicable agreement with the university, reportedly involving a US$200,000 payoff.
The university’s then president resigned in 2018 amid pressure from 200 professors to step down over the scandal.