USC to pay $215M in sexual misconduct settlement
- The University of Southern California will pay $215 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit involving allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by its former gynecologist, The Wall Street Journal reported, noting USC will likely owe an extra $25 million in legal fees.
- George Tyndall, who also faces a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, allegedly abused female patients throughout his nearly three decade tenure at USC. The university said it found records of complaints dating back to 2000, which they said the health center director at the time handled internally and did not undertake "proper investigation."
- Insurance and reserve funds will be used to cover the cost of the settlement. Payments range from $2,500 to up to $250,000 for the most serious complaints, going to thousands of women he treated who did and did not allege abuse. The university faces tens of lawsuits in state court, and could also face more independent claims.
USC's settlement is one of several among U.S. colleges in the last decade related to sexual misconduct by staff or students. The most notable is the $500 million agreement reached in May by Michigan State University to support victims of former university sports doctor Larry Nassar, who abused more than 300 women. The payouts by Pennsylvania State University over the abuse case involving assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky have surpassed $100 million.
Through regulatory action, the University of Montana was fined nearly $1 million last month under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act for its failure to correctly report several complaints of sexual misconduct — one of the highest fines recorded.
There were 59 sexual harassment settlements worth $10.5 million across 22 universities and systems during 2016 and 2017 alone, in most cases due to mishandling of complaints or because they didn't adequately punish those charged. And a researcher at Michigan State found more than 700 substantiated cases of sexual misconduct at colleges and universities dating back to 1917, with most recorded since 2000.
Amid an environment of highly publicized sexual misconduct cases, colleges are contending with conflicting guidance from federal courts on how to handle them, the Journal reported, as well as potential changes in the definitions of sexual assault and in the regulations determining how to handle such complaints.
The Education Department is planning to release new rules on campus sexual assault, updating guidance put in place by the Obama administration. The rules would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and raise the legal standard for determining whether institutions have adequately addressed complaints.
- The Wall Street Journal University of Southern California to Pay $215 Million in Gynecologist Sex-Abuse Case