University of Southern California’s president, C.L. Max Nikias, has agreed to resign following a faculty-led petition which asserted he no longer had the “moral authority to lead” after he failed to protect students from a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse at the campus health center, reports the New York Times.
The petition was spearheaded by Ariela Gross, a law professor at USC, and quickly gained nearly 500 signatures from students, faculty, and alumni after it came out that a 2016 internal investigation into gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall for conducting inappropriate pelvic exams was settled quietly without being reported to the state medical board. Not only was it not reported, but it was also kept secret from former students and the public. Tyndall was allowed to continue treating patients until 2016 when a nurse reported him to the campus rape crisis center. When the internal investigation ruled that his behavior amounted to sexual harassment, Tyndall was allowed to resign quietly with a financial payout.
It wasn’t until the Los Angeles Times questioned the institution that the allegations were made public. In the interest of protecting the image of the university, Nikias compromised the safety of USC’s students.
In addition to the letter, the university has an escalating number of lawsuits from students going back to the first few years of Tyndall’s tenure at USC in the ‘90s. With each suit filed, a history of inappropriate behavior and offensive remarks made by Tyndall is made clearer. Accusations include photographing students genitals and sexually suggestive remarks. While only five lawsuits have been filed as of earlier this week, many more women are expected to come forward.
Nikias also came under fire last year for his poor handling of several university scandals including the former dean of the USC’s medical school using drugs on campus and partying with prostitutes. Subsequently, the replacement for the dean of the medical school was forced to resign as well after the private university admitted to settling a sexual harassment case with one of his former researchers.
Currently, no time frame has been given for Nikias’ resignation.