A former on-campus University of Southern California gynecologist was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexually assaulting 16 patients over the course of seven years, authorities said.
George Tyndall, 72, was charged with a total of 29 felony counts, including 18 counts of sexual penetration and 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
He faces a possible maximum sentence of 53 years in state prison if convicted as charged, authorities said.
The victims, who range from 17 to 29 years of age, went to the USC student health center for annual exams or for treatment between 2009 and 2016, the DA said.
The accusations first surfaced after a 2018 Los Angeles Times investigation detailed disturbing alleged sexual abuse by Tyndall of four former students at a USC student health clinic, and Tyndall has since been the subject of a Los Angeles Police Department investigation for over a year.
The reports stirred controversy in the university and sparked outrage over how USC leadership handled the accusations.
The District Attorney's Office said police have presented 134 criminal reports involving Tyndall.
During a yearlong investigation, 12 detectives interviewed about 135 women in 16 states in connection to the case, according to LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
LAPD served six search warrants at Tyndall's home, a storage facility and USC. In the house, they found photos and about 1,000 "home-made sex tapes" apparently made outside the U.S. and several compromising photos of women that appear to have been taken during his employment, police said.
More than 700 women are pursuing individual claims against the doctor in court, and USC agreed to a $215 million class-action settlement with former patients, the Associated Press reported.
Tyndall has denied the accusations.
“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 prevail. He remains adamant he will then be totally exonerated,” Tyndall’s attorney told KTLA in a written statement.
LAPD said Tyndall had not been booked as of 4 p.m. Wednesday because he complained of chest pain after he was taken into custody and was hospitalized. He is expected to be booked following his release from the hospital.
A loaded firearm was found in Tyndall's possession while he was being detained outside his home Wednesday morning, but he was taken into custody without incident, police said.
Prosecutors recommended Tyndall's bail be set at more than $2 million, according to the DA.
“We have an obligation to take him into custody on those cases. He needed to go to jail and address those in the court systems,” LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Captain William Hayes said.
Tyndall’s attorney told the Associated Press that they were upset police did not give him a chance to surrender before making the arrest.
USC issued a statement following the arrest, saying they're waiting for more information.
“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 wellbeing 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 university said in a written statement.
Moore said no criminal allegations against USC were found during the past year's investigation.
During a news conference Wednesday, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said that with so many women coming forward, investigators had to be thorough while making sure to treat victims with dignity.
“I commend these women for coming forward, I understand this experience has been emotionally devastating and that the months-long investigation has been frustrating at times,” Lacey said.
Lacey said that some of the reports fell outside the 10-year statute of limitations or lacked the evidence required for a criminal filing. She said additional cases may be filed at a later time.
Women's rights attorney Gloria Allred represents 62 of Tyndall's alleged victims in a civil lawsuit against the former doctor and USC.
Allred said that she represents at least 2 of the women in the criminal case in which charges were filed Wednesday.
“We and many victims of Dr. Tyndall are extremely happy that justice has finally begun in the criminal system," Allred said in a news conference, sitting next to Daniella Mohazab, a USC student and one of Tyndall's first accusers.
“I broke down at work today in tears of happiness that Tyndall is behind bars," Mohazab said. "I cannot explain how scared I felt walking around with the fact that I could run into Tyndall at any moment—in a grocery store, coffee shop or park.”
Mohazab thanked law enforcement agencies and those who stood behind the women coming forward with the abuse allegations.
“I am thankful for the support coming and I am thankful for those speaking up," Mohazab said. "This is why we are here and this is why were not stepping down. We will not stay silent."
Allred did not comment on whether Mohazab is one of the 16 students in the criminal case.
The attorney said she hopes a jury will be able to hear from the victims to bring to light "the facts behind Dr. Tyndalls gross misconduct,” and said that she is not surprised that Tyndall has denied the allegations. Allred said patience is needed with this case, given that it will be challenging and slow-moving.
“This isn’t over but it is a huge step forward,” Mohazab said.