Another lawsuit was filed this week against USC and George Tyndall—the 11th lawsuit in three weeks against the university and its former on-campus gynecologist. In the most recent suit, one woman alleged that Tyndall penetrated her with his ungloved fingers, took pictures of her genitalia, and made inappropriate sexual comments, asking what she enjoyed during sex. Her account echoes claims made by Tyndall's former patients in earlier lawsuits.
Following the Los Angeles Times' story about Tyndall's alleged sexual misconduct with patients, multiple lawsuits have been filed every week, and the deluge of complaints shows no signs of slowing.
Two lawyers who filed suits two weeks ago—David Ring and Raymond Zolekhian—told Annenberg Media that they will both file amended complaints in the coming days, with both of their firms representing an additional 30 victims each. If they do, there will be over 100 victims collectively represented by all the independent lawsuits against the university.
Three of the lawsuits filed so far are class-action suits, including one by Mike Arias, founding partner of Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos. He wouldn't disclose how many clients he is representing, but said, "We have enough to fill several football teams."
Susan Owen, managing partner of Owen Patterson, & Owen, is leading her firm's effort against the university, representing four clients who allege that Tyndall harassed and assaulted them during examinations. She told Annenberg Media that she continues to get calls from more victims daily, though she would not say how many. Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing.
All four lawyers interviewed by Annenberg Media agreed that the scale and scope of this scandal were unprecedented. The LAPD says Tyndall was allowed to operate for nearly 30 years, with complaints dating back to 1990. Police estimate he may have seen 10,000 patients in that time—a number that Owen says is a low estimate.
Some drew comparisons to the Miramonte Elementary School scandal in 2013. Los Angeles Unified School District teacher Mark Berndt was convicted of 23 counts of lewd conduct. He was accused of blindfolding and spoon-feeding children semen. Owen and Ring independently represented Berndt's victims in this case.
Others drew comparisons to Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with children under the age of 16. John Manly, founder and managing partner of Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, represented many victims in this case; he also represents several victims in the case against Tyndall. (Manly did not reply to requests for comment for this story.)
Rather than jury trials, both cases resulted in large financial settlements for victims and their families.
The Miramonte case led to nearly $30 million in payments from L.A. Unified to settle lawsuits brought on behalf of 63 students.
The Nassar case led to a $500 million settlement from Michigan State University for his victims. In January, NBC News reported that 265 individuals accused Nassar of sexual misconduct and assault.
Michigan State officials denied knowing about Nassar's conduct for decades, but months after his conviction, the university settled with his victims. The New York Times reported that the settlement is believed to be the largest ever reached in a sexual abuse case involving an American university. The Times said it is unclear how Michigan State will pay this steep penalty.
While none of the lawyers offered any predictions about the Tyndall's case to come, they all hope for a quick and speedy settlement. None want to go to a jury trial, though all say they are preparing for one.
Owen said that she wears two hats approaching this case—one as a well-respected lawyer, fighting for justice, and another as a concerned parent whose son went to USC. She told Annenberg Media that the number of people who reached out to her through her son was "staggering."
"We are all part of the Trojan Family. My son feels great pride in that—I feel great pride in that," she said. "But this has no place in that story."
"In every single person that has approached me with this," Owen said, "the feeling is the same—USC owes this to them. That USC should have done more. All of their apologies in the past two weeks—all of those platitudes—they mean nothing. What they should have done is to protect these girls."
In addition to her son who went to USC, Owen has a 16-year-old daughter as well who wanted to go to USC her entire life, Owen said. But now, she doesn't think she would let her daughter attend the school.
"How could I trust them? It was one guy who did this, but this was an entire university that turned a blind eye. And thousands—potentially hundreds of thousands—of women have suffered as a result."
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained inaccurate financial information about USC. USC's endowment is $5.1 billion.
You can reach Bradley Bermont via email: firstname.lastname@example.org