LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Chinese government has expressed “deep concern” over published reports that a University of Southern California gynaecologist was allowed for years to treat students, many of them from China, despite accusations of sexual abuse and harassment.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Dr. George Tyndall, 71, resigned from USC last year after an internal investigation at the university found he performed unnecessary or unprofessional physical exams and made inappropriate comments to some of the young women in his care.
Tyndall was not suspended by the university until 2016 despite complaints dating to the 1990s, according to the article. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime, the newspaper reported.
Late on Wednesday, China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua quoted an unidentified official of the Consulate General of China in Los Angeles as saying, “We noticed the report and expressed our deep concern over the situation.”
“We request USC to take serious step to investigate the issue and protect Chinese students from illegal violation.”
The Chinese consul general in Los Angeles could not be reached for comment.
Tyndall could not be reached by Reuters for comment. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he denied any wrongdoing, saying, “I’m there to protect the health of Trojan women,” referring to the school’s mascot.
Emily Gersema, a spokeswoman for the university, said on Thursday that it was preparing a statement in response to the Chinese government. USC enrolled 5,101 students from China in 2017, according to its website.
In a “letter to the USC community” issued on Tuesday on the school’s website, its president C.L. Nikias said Tyndall was placed on administrative leave in June 2016 after a complaint by a staff member and since then had not been allowed contact with students.
The school acknowledged in the letter that it did not report accusations against Tyndall to the California Medical Board until this year, when he sought reinstatement at USC.
“On behalf of the university, I sincerely apologise to any student who may have visited the student health centre and did not receive the respectful care each individual deserves,” Nikias said.
Earlier this year Larry Nassar, a former faculty member and physician at an on-campus clinic at Michigan State University and a doctor for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb Editing by Bill Tarrant