Los Angeles (CNN)Dr. George Tyndall, a gynecologist who practiced at the University of Southern California for almost 30 years, was charged Wednesday with 18 counts of sexual assault, according to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors in Los Angeles.
Tyndall, who was fired in 2017, has denied allegations of wrongdoing, which were also included in a class-action lawsuit against the university.He was arrested Wednesday morning as he left his apartment. He was carrying a .38-calber revolver with a 2-inch barrel, police Chief Michel Moore said. Tyndall complained of chest pains and was hospitalized, the chief said.Court OKs preliminary $215 million settlement over gynecologist's alleged sexual misconduct Tyndall, 72, will also face 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud, the district attorney’s office said in announcing the charges. Read MoreDistrict Attorney Jackie Lacey said her office got to a point in a one-year investigation where she thought they had reached a sufficient number of cases to file charges. The investigation continues, she said, and more charges are possible.”After a year of being tried in the press, Dr. Tyndall looks forward to finally having his case adjudicated in a court of law,” attorney Leonard Levine said. “He remains confident that he will be totally exonerated.”Tyndall’s arraignment, where he will be asked to plead to the charges, has not been scheduled. The university said it was waiting for more information about Tyndall’s arrest. “We hope this arrest will be a healing step for former patients and our entire university,” interim president Wanda M. Austin added.Olympian Aly Raisman is helping other sexual assault accusers in their fight for justiceThe criminal complaint alleges Tyndall, who worked at the university’s student health center, inappropriately touched 16 women between 2009 and 2016. The women ranged in age from 17 to 29, prosecutors said. The complaint alleges that Tyndall told some of the women the touching was for a professional purpose when it was for sexual gratification. If convicted on the 29 charges, he could face up to 53 years in prison.The news comes two weeks after a federal court approved a preliminary amount of $215 million for a victims’ fund. A university lawyer told CNN last year that as many as 17,000 women could qualify for the class action settlement. Opinion: A USC gynecologist shattered my illusionsThe settlement also requires USC to strengthen its oversight, including by performing background checks on all personnel who interact with patients, and giving female students the option to see a female doctor, according to the filing.A task force will be formed to make policy change recommendations at USC, and an independent women’s health advocate will be appointed to supervise the investigation of complaints and training for students to prevent inappropriate sexual behavior, according to the filing.Attorney John Manly, who represents about 200 women in the suit against USC said that his clients “are relieved he’s off the streets. They’ve been living on eggshells.”Manly says it’s unclear whether any of his clients are among the 16 Jane Does in the criminal case. Some of his clients went to the health center as long as 30 years ago. “This is the beginning of the end for justice for my clients,” Manly said. There are also hundreds of other individual lawsuits filed by women who allege sexual misconduct by Tyndall.