A University of Southern California gynecologist was allowed to continue practicing for many years, despite multiple complaints of misconduct, according to a new stomach-churning Los Angeles Times report. The complaints against George Tyndall date back to the 1990s and include allegations of inappropriately photographing students’ genitals, making sexualized commentary about patients’ bodies, and explicitly referencing sexual intercourse while inserting his fingers into patients’ vaginas. Some of the most unsettling accusations come from nurses and medical assistants—sometimes known as chaperones—who witnessed his exams firsthand.
Tyndall, who resigned last summer, has denied the accusations and outrageously speculated that, as the Times paraphrased, “chaperones reported him because they had trouble reaching orgasm and were jealous of young patients with tighter pelvic muscles.” Let us pause for a moment to let that shit sink in: This gentleman argues that he is being set up by old ladies who wish they had tighter vaginas.
Tyndall, 71, worked at the university’s student health clinic for nearly three decades, treating “tens of thousands of female students, many of them teenagers seeing a gynecologist for the first time,” as the Times puts it. The earliest complaints against him came from chaperones who were “alarmed about the frequency with which he used a camera during pelvic exams.” As the Times explains, there can be legitimate reasons for such a practice—“including research, teaching and soliciting second opinions from colleagues”—but assistants “questioned his motivations” and the vast extent of his photographing.
Then, in the early 2000s, at least three students submitted letters of complaint about “inappropriate touching and remarks.” On Tuesday, USC revealed that it had found records of eight complaints against Tyndall between 2000 and 2014—some of which related to “racially insensitive” remarks and some of which were about “patient care.” Then new worries started to arise among his staff. As the Times reports:
Chaperones were concerned about what Tyndall described as a full body scan for unusual moles. They said Tyndall frequently had women lie naked on the exam table while he slowly inspected every part of their body, down to the area between their buttocks.
While he worked, he made comments that the nursing staff found unseemly. He described patients’ skin as “flawless,” “creamy” or “beautiful,” according to multiple people who witnessed the exams or were told about them. They said he remarked on students’ “perky breasts.”
“They stand right up there, don’t they?” one recalled him telling a patient.
His chaperones also began to experience concerns about the way he used his fingers—along with his accompanying commentary—during exams. According to the Times:
What troubled chaperones was Tyndall’s use of his fingers at the start of the exam. Before inserting a speculum, the metal duck-billed device that spreads open the walls of the vagina and enables the doctor to view the cervix, he would voice concern that the speculum might not fit.
“He would put one finger in and say, ‘Oh, I think it will fit. Let’s put two fingers in,’” said a chaperone who worked with Tyndall for years. Four people familiar with Tyndall’s exams said that while he spoke, he was moving his fingers in and out of the patients.
They said he made nearly identical statements to hundreds of women as he probed them: My, what a tight muscle you have. You must be a runner.
A chaperone who worked with Tyndall told the Times that she had seen him do similar exams at least 70 times. The Times’ report, which is based on interviews with more than 20 current and former USC employees, is filled with many other unsettling details—including an instance in which a chaperone allegedly witnessed Tyndall remove an intrauterine device and then ask a patient if he could keep the device, which was covered in blood and tissue.
More recently, some colleagues began to worry that he was “targeting the university’s growing population of Chinese students, who often had a limited understanding of the English language and American medical norms,” reports the Times. Tyndall made an effort “to connect” with these students—placing a map of China on his wall and keeping “a bamboo plant, the traditional Chinese symbol of longevity and vitality, on a shelf above his desk,” according to the Times. He also “sometimes showed off a photo of his Filipina wife and shared details of their relationship.”
For years, complaints were made against Tyndall by both patients and chaperones—to no real effect. It is all disturbingly reminiscent of what happened with Olympic doctor Larry Nassar who was allowed to continue sexually abusing athletes despite claims made against him. Finally, in 2016, a longtime nurse, who had already lodged complaints with clinic administrators, went to USC’s rape crisis center with her concerns. Soon after, a large collection of images of patients’ genitals was found in Tyndall’s office, and an investigation was launched, which ultimately found that his “behavior during pelvic exams was outside the scope of current medical practice and amounted to sexual harassment of students,” says the Times.
Last summer, Tyndall was pushed by USC to “to resign quietly with a financial payout,” but the university did not inform his patients or report him at the time to the Medical Board of California. It was only after the Times started its investigation that USC did file a report. I’ll leave you with the last two lines of the Times’ story: “Tyndall renewed his California medical license in January. He has said he intends to work well into his 80s.”