A former USC campus gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women under the guise of medical exams was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual assaulting 16 patients over 17 years.
George Tyndall, 71, was arrested after attorney's arranged his surrender at his apartment in the Mid-Wilshire area, law enforcement sources told NBCLA.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Tyndall was armed with a .38-caliber revolver when we was taken into custody. Moore said he didn't believe Tyndall had a concealed weapon permit.
Tyndall was also complaining of chest pains when he was detained, and hospitalized afterward.
Hundreds of former patients have sued Tyndall and USC, accusing the university of failing to respond to allegations of abuse by the campus gynecologist dating back decades. He was charged Wednesday with 18 counts of sexual penetration and 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud.
The allegations involve 16 women, ranging in age from 17 to 29, who were sexually assaulted over the course of 17 years while Tyndall worked at USC, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. All of the crimes occurred at the campus health center between 2009 and 2016, prosecutors said.
The victims went to the health center seeking annual exams and other medical treatment, according to the district attorney's office.
More than 700 women are pursuing individual claims against the doctor in state court.
Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing. No date was scheduled for his arraignment.
His attorney issued a statement following the arrest.
"After a year of being tried in the press, Dr Tyndall looks forward to having his case adjudicated in a court of law where the truth will finally prevail," attorney Andrew Flier said. "He remains adamant he will then be totally exonerated."
Prosecutors recommended bail be set at $2 million. If convicted, Tyndall faces up to 53 years in state prison.
USC Interim President Wanda M. Austin also issued a statement Wednesday.
"USC is awaiting further details on George Tyndall’s arrest," Austin said. "We have cooperated with the LAPD and District Attorney’s Office investigations since the beginning and will continue to do so. We care deeply about our community and our top priority continues to be the well-being of our students, health center patients and university community. We hope this arrest will be a healing step for former patients and our entire university.”
The criminal case follows a Los Angeles federal judge's preliminary approval of a $215 million class-action settlement with some of the women suing the university. Attorneys for the women included in the settlement said the agreement "gives every single woman who saw Tyndall a choice in how they want to participate and hold USC accountable, while also forcing the school to change to ensure this doesn't happen again.
Tyndall and USC have been sued by hundreds of alleged victims, many of whom claim they were inappropriately fondled or photographed by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams. Many have also accused him of making sexually charged comments during the exams.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson set a January hearing to discuss finalizing the settlement, under which Tyndall's former patients each would receive minimum payments of $2,500, in addition to being eligible to claim an award of between $7,500 to $250,000, subject to review by a three-member panel.
Beyond the payments, the settlement requires USC to institute a series of administrative changes, including the creation of a position for "an independent women's health advocate'' to ensure complaints about improper sexual or racial conduct are investigated. USC also must conduct background checks on health center employees that delve into prior history of sexual harassment allegations, in addition to improving staff training and bolstering staffing so that female students have the option of seeing a female doctor.
The class includes as many as 17,000 women seen by Tyndall at the USC Student Health Center between Aug. 14, 1989, and June 21, 2016, whose treatment included an examination of their breast or genital areas by the physician.
But hundreds of other women are still suing the university and Tyndall in state court.
The lawsuits contend the university received numerous complaints of Tyndall's alleged sexually abusive behavior, dating back to at least 1988, and actively and deliberately concealed his actions. Attorneys for some former patients allege that following an internal investigation of complaints against Tyndall in 2016, the university paid Tyndall a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign.
USC officials have denied any cover-up.
In an open letter to faculty and staff in May 2018, USC Provost Michael Quick said top administrators did not know about the complaints until 2016.
"It is true that our system failed, but it is important that you know that this claim of a cover-up is patently false," Quick wrote. "We would never knowingly put students in harm's way."
The uproar over the Tyndall allegations, on the heels of other misconduct cases involving different campus doctors, ultimately led USC President C.L. Max Nikias to step down.
USC established a hotline for complaints about Tyndall and has offered free counseling to his former patients.