USC agrees to $852 million payout in sex abuse lawsuit

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FILE - In this July 1, 2019, file photo, Dr. George Tyndall listens during his arraignment at Los Angeles Superior court in Los Angeles. The University of Southern California has agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who have accused Tyndall, the college's longtime campus gynecologist, of sexual abuse, officials announced Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

LOS ANGELES – The University of Southern California has agreed to an $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who have accused the college’s longtime campus gynecologist of sexual abuse, the victims’ lawyers and USC announced Thursday.

It’s believed to be a record amount for such a lawsuit. When combined with an earlier settlement of a separate class-action suit, USC has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion for claims against Dr. George Tyndall, who worked at the school for nearly three decades.

Tyndall, 74, faces 35 criminal counts of alleged sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2016 at the university’s student health center. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.

(Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of sexual assault. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.)

Hundreds of women came forward to report their allegations to police but some of the cases fell outside the 10-year statute of limitations, while others did not rise to the level of criminal charges or lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute. Still, he faces up to 64 years in prison if convicted.

“I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community," USC President Carol L. Folt said in a statement. "We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall.”

Folt took office in 2019 as part of an overhaul of USC leadership amid the unfolding gynecologist and college entrance bribery scandals.

The $852 million civil settlement is believed to be the largest sexual abuse settlement against any university, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, as well as the largest personal injury settlement against any college or university. The lawyers say no confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements were attached.