The president of the University of Southern California, CL Max Nikias, retired on Tuesday in the middle of a sex abuse scandal involving a campus gynecologist.
Students and faculty had been calling for Nikias' dismissal since May, when the Los Angeles Times reported that the school had allowed Dr. George Tyndall to remain on staff for decades, despite repeated complaints of sexual misconduct at the school. against it.
Nikias will assume the position of president emeritus and administrator of the life of the university, and Wanda Austin, a renowned engineer and member of the board of directors of the USC, will act as interim president, the school said in a statement. Tuesday.
"Working together, with passion and commitment, we will restore trust and we will heal our community," said Rick Caruso, president of the custodians, in the statement. "Because of that passion and commitment of the Trojans, the USC will enlighten the human mind more brightly than ever before."
A May letter to the trustees signed by 200 professors from USC demanded that Nikias resign for "not protecting our students, our staff and our colleagues from sexual harassment and repeated and widespread behavior." Thousands of students and alumni have signed an online petition requesting his dismissal.
Several attorneys representing women who have accused Tyndall of sexual misconduct criticized the board of trustees' decision to keep Nikias as president emeritus.
"That's a message that the damage Tyndall did is not serious [and] they want Max to continue to raise money," wrote John Manly, who represents 150 women who say Tyndall harassed or sexually assaulted them. "The USC can not have it in both directions."
Gloria Allred, who represents more than 35 of Tyndall's accusers, called Nikias' new role "a slap in the face to hundreds of students who have reported abuse."
Tyndall, 71, worked in the USC student health clinic for almost 30 years, despite of the repeated accusations of students and staff that he touched patients inadequately during the exams, made suggestive comments and photographed the genitals of the students. His behavior was particularly inappropriate towards international students in Asia, several witnesses reported.
USC suspended Tyndall in 2016 after a campus nurse reported him to the school's rape crisis center.
An internal USC investigation found that Tyndall's behavior during the pelvic exams constituted sexual harassment, but the school allowed him to quietly resign last summer with a financial payment, according to the Times. The school did not alert Tyndall's patients and did not report it to the California Medical Board at that time.
Several students have filed lawsuits against Tyndall and USC. Tyndall's lawyer told CNN in July that the doctor "is convinced that he did not commit any criminal conduct while practicing medicine at USC."
USC said in its statement on Tuesday that it has hired a law firm to further investigate Tyndall's tenure at the student health center.