Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Aly Raisman became a symbol of strength for survivors as she spoke out against her abuser Larry Nassar last year. Now she’s standing with women who accuse former USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall of sexual misconduct.
Raisman joined dozens of Tyndall’s former patients Tuesday at the California state capitol. They’re rallying in support of a state bill that would extend the statute of limitations in the reporting of sexual assault or misconduct by a doctor at a student health center.
The proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 1510, would give survivors of sexual assault another year to file civil claims, according to the bill’s author, Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes.
Fifty-two patients sued Tyndall and USC in July and 93 others came forward in October. USC agreed in February to pay $215 million to settle the class action lawsuit. A statement from USC Interim President Wanda M. Austin at the time called it an “important step in healing our community.”
USC opposes AB 1510, contending that it will undermine the settlement it reached in the class action lawsuit by encouraging Tyndall’s former patients to opt out and pursue separate legal action.
“Dr. Tyndall has no position on the proposed legislation,” Leonard Levine, a lawyer representing Tyndall told CNN on Tuesday. “It is totally up to the Legislature.”
Tyndall was fired by USC in 2017 for inappropriate behavior. He denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime. “Dr. Tyndall continues to deny that he engaged in any criminal conduct during his employment at USC,” Levine said in February.
“I stand here today with an army of survivors,” the Olympic champion said. “More than 600 of George Tyndall’s survivors have come forward – 600 – accusing him of abuse. And yet, no charges have been filed. How can this be? What message does it send to survivors? To potential future victims? To abusers? It suggested that sexual abuse is not a priority.”
“Respectfully, I ask that you appoint a special prosecutor to investigate all contributing causes of this horrific disaster, so this can be identified, understood and prevented from ever happening again,” Raisman said.
“And I ask that you empower the victims of abuse to become survivors of abuse, by enacting AB 1510, providing a one-year window for victims of Tyndall to take action against their abuser and have their day in court,” she said.
Raisman has been vocal in her support of sexual assault survivors, especially since her forceful speech at Nassar’s sentencing in January 2018. She tweeted a message of support in June for the women who spoke out against Tyndall.
On Tuesday, she said, “I ask each of you to remember that the survivors you see here before you today needed only one adult to stand between them and their abuser.
“The harm they suffered was as preventable as it was inexcusable. We can’t change the past, but you can create a safer future by passing this bill.”