U.S. Education Office for Civil Rights Launches Investigation into University of Southern California’s Handling of Sexual Harassment Claims

Calls for full cooperation and transparency by university officials

Washington, DC - - (June 11, 2018) - - The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced a Title IX directed, systemic investigation into the University of Southern California’s (USC) handling of reports of sexual harassment against former employee Dr. George Tyndall.

OCR’s investigation will assess USC’s response to reports and complaints of sexual harassment during pelvic exams as early as 1990 that were not fully investigated by the University until spring 2016 and that the University did not disclose to OCR during an earlier investigation.

“No student should ever endure sexual harassment or abuse while trying to pursue their education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Every student on every campus should have a safe learning environment, and I expect all education institutions under the Department’s jurisdiction to take seriously their responsibilities under Title IX. Attempts to obfuscate or hide Title IX violations from the Department will not be tolerated, and I am calling on USC to cooperate fully and completely with this investigation.”

According to USC, Dr. Tyndall resigned in June 2017 based on a finding by the university that his behavior during pelvic exams was outside the scope of current medical standards and that he violated the university’s policy on harassment by making repeated sexually inappropriate remarks during patient encounters.

OCR currently has an unrelated monitoring agreement with USC as a result of OCR’s investigations into the university's handling of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence that spanned from August 2010 through May 2015. The resolution agreement reached with USC in case numbers 09-13-2294 and 09-16-2128 was entered into on Jan. 28, 2018. OCR’s requests for documents and information from USC during the investigation of these matters covered all reports and complaints against staff and faculty during the 2010-2013 academic years. However, at no time during the investigation or negotiations did USC provide OCR with any information regarding reports or complaints allegedly received against Dr. Tyndall. Based on these new compliance issues raised by the information disclosed by USC in public statements and through recent media reports, OCR is opening a new directed investigation.

OCR policy is to open a systemic investigation when the allegations support a broad review of an institution’s handling of civil rights issues.

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Education