(CNN)The US Department of Education is demanding "sweeping changes" at the University of Southern California after an investigation found the school failed for years to protect students after reports alleged sexual abuse by former gynecologist George Tyndall.
US Department of Education slams USC's response to Tyndall abuse allegations
The department's Office for Civil Rights' investigation into the handling of allegations against Tyndall found USC "systemically failed" to respond "promptly and effectively" to reports of misconduct, the department said in a statement.
Tyndall, who worked at the university for almost three decades, was arrested in June 2019, and faces 29 counts of sex crimes, including sexual assault and sexual battery. He has pleaded not guilty to the accusations. He was fired in 2017.
"This total and complete failure to protect students is heartbreaking and inexcusable," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in the statement. "Too many at USC turned a blind eye to evidence that Dr. Tyndall was preying on students for years."
USC and the DOE announced an agreement Thursday on changes the university will put in place in its Title IX procedures, which protect students from sex discrimination.
"The university is confronting its past and implementing changes necessary to inform its future," USC President Carol Folt said in a statement. Folt said she will "continue to work diligently to restore trust in this institution and build a strong foundation of integrity and accountability."
Prosecutors have said Tyndall's alleged misconduct happened between 2009 and 2016. The alleged victims were then between 17 and 29 years old.
Multiple former Tyndall patients have sued the university and the former doctor. A judge this week approved a $215 million payout in one class-action case. The first payments will be distributed April 6, according to a statement from the lawyers representing the former patients in the lawsuit.
The agreement announced Thursday between the university and the DOE includes ensuring its Title IX office tracks every complaint or report and changes its procedures to make sure all parties get due process.
USC must also review current and former employees to determine whether they took appropriate action when they were notified of complaints or concerns about Tyndall, and make efforts to make contact with patients who lodged complaints against him, as well as others who may have interacted with him, "to offer to remedy the harm done," according to the department.