D. Miller & Associated, PLLC hosted a press conference Monday to address the two lawsuits the firm filed against two former USC health physicians and the university that same day. Fifteen alleged victims attended the meeting, and some shared their stories.
In the first lawsuit filed Monday, 33 women alleged sexual misconduct against former USC gynecologist George Tyndall, bringing the number of Tyndall accusers represented by the law firm to 131. According to attorney Andy Rubenstein, the second lawsuit represents 11 alleged victims of former USC men's sexual health physician Dennis Kelly, who allegedly targeted gay and bisexual men.
Eleven of those who spoke during the conference shared their stories of the abuse they say they faced at the Engemann Student Health Center and how the university needs to do more to fix the culture and safety of the campus.
Taron Sargsyan, a former patient of Kelly, discussed how he was taken advantage of during his three medical appointments from September 2012 to 2015. Sargsyan stated that "[Kelly] was using my weaknesses for his advantage" and then recalled being asked "to get undressed in front of him and performed an intrusive physical exam."
Kelly allegedly asked Sargsyan inappropriate questions about his pornography consumption and sexual life, making him "feel like an object" whenever he went to his scheduled appointments.
Former USC student Seth Johnson also shared similar experiences with Kelly, saying medical visits "included me being persuaded into unnecessary and expensive examinations and overly invasive questions and judgement."
No official statement has been released by the university since Kelly's allegations came to light in February 2019, according to Rubenstein.
Amanda Davis, one of Tyndall's former patients, called USC to take action for its mistakes and to prevent cases like these from happening again. She recommended USC create "a reporting system that is monitored by an unbiased third party that tracks complaints, followed by investigations." According to her, this process should require all professors, faculty and students to report without repercussions.
Davis also stated that Tyndall and Kelly need "to be held criminally and civilly liable," while USC has to be held accountable by providing all of the answers and facts that the Trojan Family deserves to know.
According to the law firm's press release, Monday's conference was scheduled before the plaintiffs traveled to Sacramento on Tuesday to support the passing of the Assembly Bill 1510. AB-1510 states that sexual assault cases which have reached the statute of limitations, the maximum time the plaintiff has to initiate legal action for an alleged offense, would be revived if they were found invalid solely based on the limitation and were committed by a physician at the USC student health center.
Multiple accusers, including Davis, emphasized the importance of the bill and how it needs to be passed to "prevent institutions from trying to hide or cover up abuse that has ran until the statute of limitations is up, to minimize their accountability and losses."
California's current statute of limitations on sexual assault is 10 years from the last act committed. If AB-1510 is passed, alleged Tyndall and Kelly victims would be able to seek claims despite the statute of limitations.
In response to the sexual assault settlements regarding Tyndall, USC also hired Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross and Leoni LLP, a San Francisco based lobbying firm, to oppose the bill on March 1. Plaintiffs who spoke at the press conference criticized the university for this decision.
"USC, you have literally hired a team of litigators that have gone to Sacramento to kill off the one thing that would allow these women and men to finally call out and receive reparations for the damage done to them," said Brennan Heil, a USC student and alleged Tyndall victim. "Doing so, you have blatantly stated that these survivors do not matter."
Heil also criticized the $215 million settlement that was proposed last October, which provides all former patients of Tyndall who are apart of the federal class action with a compensation of at least $2,500. Those who can provide additional details can be given up to $250,000. To Heil, "$2,000 does not even scratch the surface of the money spent to try and heal the pain that [USC] allowed to occur."
Instead, she hopes that USC will admit "the wrongs that have been committed" throughout the years. Heil encouraged the university to "take responsibility for [their] actions," and to follow what her mother used to tell her: "Say you're sorry, mean it and try to repair what has happened."