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Chinese graduates take abuse action

By Ai Heping in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-25 09:14
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Three Chinese graduates at the University of Southern California will join seven other women in filing lawsuits against their alma mater for damages caused by a long-time campus gynecologist who allegedly sexually abused them.

The lawsuit, jointly announced on Tuesday by Deng Law Center and Girardi & Keese at a news conference in Los Angeles, is the latest in a string of legal actions filed by former patients against USC and Doctor George Tyndall, a gynecologist who was accused of inappropriate behavior during his 30-year tenure at Engemann Student Health Center.

Tyndall, 71, also allegedly targeted Chinese patients due to their lack of understanding of US medical norms, according to the Los Angeles Times. About 300 former patients have contacted the university in regards to Tyndall, the newspaper reported on Wednesday. The university has begun to share the names of ex-patients with the Los Angeles Police Department, but didn't disclose how many names were released, according to the Times.

Christopher Mo, an LAPD public information officer, told China Daily on Wednesday that he is aware that USC has given the department information about former patients, but he said there still is no formal criminal investigation against Tyndall.

Tyndall has denied the allegations.

Complaints about Tyndall's alleged misconduct include inappropriate photographing of genitals, improper touching during pelvic exams and making sexually suggestive comments.

He had been the only full-time gynecologist at the health center before he agreed to retire in June 2017 with a separation agreement, including severance pay.

Despite complaints from patients and co-workers, the university didn't notify police nor publicly acknowledge the accusations against Tyndall, the Times reported.

"A sexual assault is much different from breaking your ankle. You break your ankle and you get over it. A sexual assault, especially to a young woman, affects them down the road. It could be very psychologically damaging and devastating to them," said Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese, a personal injury law firm.

According to Deng Law Center, all three plaintiffs moved back to China after graduation. Deng said one of the women was married for a short time but later got divorced. She told Deng that Tyndall's alleged abuse may have caused her husband to feel uncomfortable living with her, The China Press newspaper reported.

Many Chinese students opted to stay quiet because time had passed and they were afraid that revealing the experiences could harm their reputations, Deng said.

There are 45,500 students enrolled for the 2017-18 academic year at the private university in Los Angeles, including around 5,400 from China.

In a letter to faculty and staff on Tuesday, USC Provost Michael Quick wrote "there is no evidence that any one group of students was affected more than others".

The USC board of trustees announced on Wednesday that it plans to launch an independent investigation into the allegations.

Liu Yinmeng in Los Angeles and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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