The Role of Institutions in Enabling Sexual Abuse

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close quoteAug. 2018 Update: USC Admits Not Following Law in Failing to Report George Tyndall to the California State Medical Board. Our office is currently filing cases on behalf of survivors of George Tyndall sexual assaults. Contact The DiPietro Firm at (800) 215-1003 for a 100% free and confidential consultation if you think you have a case.

I’ve devoted a significant portion of my career to prosecuting civil cases on behalf of survivors who have been sexually assaulted by their doctors. The first case I was asked to handle involved the sexual assault of a pregnant patient by Robert Hadden at Columbia University in New York City. During litigation, a nurse who worked with Hadden at Columbia University, stated that Hadden had a history of sexually assaulting patients for a period of over 20-years at various clinics. And that despite the nurse’s reports to supervisors back in the 1990’s, Hadden was allowed to continue exploiting and abusing women for the next two decades – even after one patient called the police on him for putting his tongue on her vagina during a pelvic exam. Sexual assaults by medical doctors – we’re learning – are far more common than one might expect.

As a result of my experience in litigating these cases, I’ve been asked to serve as trial counsel on behalf of several survivors of the USC sexual assault cases involving their perv George Tyndall. Unlike Columbia University, USC has already confessed that Tyndall had a history of sexual exploitation which dated back to the early 1990’s. My experience in working with various survivors of sexual assault – at the hands of medical doctors – has compelled me to write this blog.

George Tyndall Sexual Assault

Aug. 2018 Update: USC now admits it failed to follow the law by not reporting George Tyndall to the California State Medical Board – may be Ordered to pay survivor’s attorneys fees

I’m sharing this information in the hopes of furthering the dialogue about how serial sexual assaults and exploitation happens inside medical institutions. Ultimately, I hope, this will bring about long overdue changes concerning the way institutions deal with the sexual predators whom they employ to staff their offices.

Through my work in this area, I’ve discovered that institutions such as USC, Penn State, Columbia University, Michigan State (and many others) play an important role in “enabling” the sexual predators they employ. In all of these cases, the institutions were all aware of the abuse many years earlier and yet did nothing to stop it. This must end. But the only way it will end is if we start discussing the institution’s role in enabling the abhorrent conduct by their doctors and employees. I hope the information in this blog will assist people in understanding how and why serial sexual assaults happen, and what can be done to put an end to it.

USC Sexual Predator George Tyndall

USC enabled George Tyndall to sexually abuse patients for over 2-decades

How Institutions Enable Sexual Abuse

Many people view the villain in a case of sexual assault as being the person who committed the abuse. But there’s more to the story which needs to be discussed – and this issue has yet receive the press coverage it deserves. People seem pre-conditioned to look for a single villain – the master of all evil – upon whom all bad things can be blamed. Perhaps thinking there’s only one “bad-guy” is an easier task for the human brain to process. Certainly having only one culprit to go after is not as scary as the idea that there is an indispensable supporting role that’s being played by an amorphous “institution” which must be identified, uprooted, and eliminated.

Focusing solely on the predator – in these cases a predator-doctor – does nothing to address the root of the problem. The root (or “root cause”) of the problem isn’t the doctor. Instead, it’s the institution which enables the doctor to exploit hundreds or thousands of patients over the course of decades without any consequences.

Granting of Access and a Position of Status

Most people may not be aware that serial sexual predators need two things to exist: (1) access; and (2) a position of status within an institution. It is virtually impossible for serial sexual predators to exist without the access and status that is given to them by public and private institutions. I will address each of these below.

Access is provided by institutions when they hire a sexual predator and grant them a pathway to a population of people who get pulled together under the umbrella of the institution. From religious institutions to boy scout organizations, corporations to collegiate sports teams, and from university hospitals to university health clinics – all predators need to affiliate themselves with these kind of institutions in order to gain access to the large population of women, men, students, or children upon whom they prey.

But access alone isn’t enough. Predators also need the institution to grant them a position of status or trust over the community in order to carry out the acts of exploitation and abuse. Once that imbalance of power is created, the predator will then use it to exploit his victims. History reveals that there is always some kind of position of authority or trust – or both – that the predator uses to manipulate, exploit and abuse others within the institutional community. Some obvious examples are the priest, the scout master, the coach, the boss, and of course, the doctor. Let this sink in: A serial sexual predator cannot exist without the support that is provided by the institution.

Unfortunately, it is common that – by the time a predator has been identified – he has already abused tens, hundreds, or even thousands of victims. Remember, these numbers only include the survivors who have come forward and spoken out. But it’s almost certainly true that not all of the victims who are abused come forward. As we are learning, it’s not uncommon for the institutional based abusers – such as these doctors – to have been preying on victims for 20-30 years before news of the sexual abuses comes into public consciousness. In the cases against Columbia, a nurse reports that Hadden had been sexually abusing patients at their medical clinics as far back as the 1990’s. In an almost identical statement made by a USC employee, there are also reports that gynecologist George Tyndall has been abusing students at USC for a nearly identical period of time. In both cases, the universities took virtually no action against either of these predators. In fact, it appears that both of these institutions have done everything they possibly could do to protect their predators from any kind of discipline or revocation of their licenses – instead of protecting their students and patients from being sexually abused.

The Culture of Institutional Enabling Must Stop

If these private and public institutions are either unwilling, or incapable, of enforcing basic safety standards to protect their patients then we, as the community, must make them. Generally speaking, District Attorneys do not, and cannot, prosecute corporate entities. This is one of the main reasons why I say “jurors in civil cases are the last remaining guardians we have in our communities”. In cases involving serial sexual abuse, the culprit who must be held accountable for the abuse is not just the predator-doctor whose face gets put in the newspapers. Instead, the real culprits are the institutions which turn their backs on years of exploitation, misogyny, and sexual abuse – while enabling the predation to occur in their hospitals and on their campuses.

If you have information about the sexual abuse and exploitation committed at USC by George Tyndall please contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office – Sex Crimes Division or The DiPietro Law Firm at (800) 215-1003. Regardless of whether you are a survivor – or a USC employee who has yet to come forward – you can contact our office anonymously. Any information you have will be used to prevent this kind of thing from happening to others.

Disclaimer: Attorney Anthony T. DiPietro, Esq. has been licensed to practice law in the States of New York and Pennsylvania as well as the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York. He has been asked to consult on multiple cases against George Tyndall and USC and is applying for admission to the Bar of the State of California through a cooperative agreement with the California-based law firm Marc J. Bern and Partners, LLP.

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