By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The US Department of Education UU He opened an investigation into how the University of Southern California responded to complaints that a gynecologist at a campus health clinic for a long time sexually harassed or abused his patients during pelvic exams.
The agency's Office of Civil Rights will examine USC's response to George Tyndall's misconduct reports dating back to 1990, but the university did not fully investigate them until the spring of 2016, the department said in a statement.
"No student should endure sexual harassment or abuse while trying to continue their education," said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in the statement.
The university has acknowledged not acting correctly on at least eight complaints filed against Tyndall between 2000 and 2014, but they were never brought to light until they were discovered during the course of an investigation that USC finally opened in 2016.
Tyndall was suspended at that time and allowed to resign quietly in 2017 after the USC investigation concluded that his pelvic exam practices were beyond accepted medical standards and that he had harassed patients.
The revelation that the university chose not to immediately inform Tyndall to the state medical board, doing so only eight months later, when he sought reinstatement, triggered a major protest by students, professors and alumni.
The furious president of the university C.L. Max Nikias resigns after almost eight years as head of one of the most prestigious private higher education institutions in the United States.
His resignation came when the USC faced a growing tide of civil litigation accusing Tyndall of misconduct and the university of complicity and negligence, as well as a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.
LAPD detectives said last month they were investigating 52 complaints filed by former Tydall patients, alleging incidents of misconduct from 1990 to 2016. In addition, a USC hotline and a special website have received more than 400 patient reports. worried, Los Angeles Time said.
Tyndall, 71, could not be reached by Reuters, but denied having made a mistake in interviews with the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the scandal.
The Department of Education investigation will examine whether the university's handling of the matter constituted a violation of civil rights under Title IX of federal education laws that prohibit sex discrimination.
The US Supreme Court UU He has interpreted that Title IX requires schools to respond appropriately to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence against students.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman, Michael Perry Edition)