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USC student describes how Dr. George Tyndall 'humiliated' her

The number of lawsuits against the school and the gynecologist is growing, mirroring the Michigan State University abuse scandal
Image: The University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles
The University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles on May 22, 2018. Four former USC students have sued the school and an ex-campus gynecologist who they accuse of sexual battery and sexual harassment.Richard Vogel / AP

USC undergraduate Anika Narayanan says that the first time she saw Dr. George Tyndall at the campus health center, he made explicit comments about her genitals while penetrating her with his fingers, asked prying questions about her ethnicity and refused to discuss birth control.

The second appointment — which she said she made after being injured during a "non-consensual sexual encounter" — went even worse.

"He chastised me for returning, asking me if I had 'forgotten to use a condom again.' I explained the forcible circumstances briefly but they were not discussed further," Narayanan told reporters on Tuesday.

"He then told me my injuries were consistent with 'doggy style' and asked me if I did a lot of 'doggy style.'"

Narayanan, who was 18 at the time of the exams and had never before seen a gynecologist, is one of a growing number of women suing University of Southern California over alleged sexual misconduct by Tyndall.

Among the allegations: He performed unnecessary digital exams, groped patients' breasts, took photos of their genitals, made inappropriate or lewd remarks about their anatomy, and commented on their ethnicity in sexual contexts.

The case is playing out like a repeat of the abuse scandal involving gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar that cost Michigan State University half a billion dollars — with a newspaper report unleashing a flood of assault allegations and accusations of institutional coverup.

Narayanan is represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who announced Tuesday that a lawsuit she filed against USC and Tyndall now has 24 plaintiffs.

Another lawyer, John Manly, who filed many of the lawsuits against MSU that resulted in an historic settlement, has 20 clients who have signed onto a lawsuit against USC and has spoken to more than 100 other women.

Several other complaints have been filed by other firms, and there's even a class-action suit. And following the MSU trajectory, the U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into USC, police are investigating Tyndall, and the college president was forced to resign.

"This goes to the top at USC," Allred said at Tuesday's news conference.

NBC News has not been able to reach Tyndall, but he previously defended himself to The Los Angeles Times, saying his exams were thorough but not sexual.

He said that before the newspaper's initial report on him, he knew of only one patient complaint, for not wearing gloves during a pelvic exam — which he said was false.

The last time I felt this humiliated, I was half-naked on Tyndall’s exam table.

USC student Anika Narayanan

USC has said that a 2013 investigation of Tyndall for making a racial comment uncovered "insufficient evidence" that university policy had been violated.

After a health center staffer lodged another complaint in 2016, USC discovered that there had been eight other complaints — including one report that "he gave me the skeevies" — that were handled by his direct boss and not revealed to university leadership, the school said.

At that point, USC began termination proceedings against Tyndall, who threatened to sue for age and gender discrimination. "Rather than engage in protracted litigation, the university entered into a separation agreement with Dr. Tyndall in order to sever ties with him immediately," USC said.

The long history of complaints against Tyndall may have opened up USC to potential liability for his treatment of hundreds, if not thousands, of patients over the course of a nearly three-decade career. Allred did not want to discuss what kind of damages USC, a private college with a $5 billion endowment, could face as part of any verdict or settlement.

Narayanan, who practically grew up on the campus because both her parents worked at USC, said she decided to speak up because she loves USC and wants to be an agent of change.

"As I prepare to begin my senior year at the university that brought me up and then brought me back down again, I feel betrayed and humiliated on behalf of my fellow students, past and present, who trusted this university and its leaders," she said.

"The last time I felt this humiliated, I was half-naked on Tyndall’s exam table."