An American university has agreed to an $852m (£620m) settlement with more than 700 women who have accused its former gynaecologist of sexual abuse.
This is believed to be a record-breaking amount for such a lawsuit – and when combined with an earlier settlement of a separate class action lawsuit, the University of Southern California has now agreed to pay out more than $1bn (£726m) for claims against Dr George Tyndall.
The 74-year-old worked for the school for nearly three decades – and is currently facing 35 criminal counts of alleged sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2016.
Tyndall has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail. If convicted, he faces a prison term of up to 64 years.
Hundreds of women came forward to report their allegations to the police, but some of the cases fell outside the 10-year statute of limitations. Others lacked sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution to proceed.
In a statement, the university’s president Carol Folt said: “I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community.
“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.”
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The civil lawsuits concern allegations stretching back to 1989.
There have been calls for other members of USC staff to face criminal charges over claims they knew about allegations against Tyndall and did not fire him.
The allegations against him first surfaced in 2018 after an investigation by the Los Angeles Times – and he surrendered his medical licence the following year.
However, he was able to resign with a large payout in the year before the newspaper’s report.
Tyndall’s lawyer said: “Dr Tyndall continues to deny that he has engaged in any misconduct.
“He has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and remains confident that when the allegations are tested in court in a jury trial, he will be totally exonerated.”