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USC president agrees to step down amid gynecologist scandal

MICHAEL BALSAMO
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In this May 12, 2017 photo USC President C.L. Max Nikias attends the University Of Southern California's Commencement Ceremony at Alumni Park at USC in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The president of the University of Southern California has agreed to step down amid a raging sex scandal involving a university gynecologist who is accused of conducting inappropriate exams for decades, the chairman of the school's board of trustees said Friday.

The university's board has "agreed to begin an orderly transition and commence the process of selecting a new president," Rick J. Caruso, the board's chairman, said in a letter to students and faculty members.

The letter did not say when C.L. Max Nikias would leave his post.

"We have heard the message that something is broken and that urgent and profound actions are needed," Caruso said.

The announcement came days after hundreds of students, professors and alumni demanded Nikias' ouster, alleging that USC failed to respond to complaints of misconduct involving Dr. George Tyndall, a gynecologist who worked at a university clinic for 30 years.

Tyndall routinely made crude comments, took inappropriate photographs and forced plaintiffs to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his "sexual gratification," according to civil lawsuits filed this week.

At least a dozen lawsuits have been filed so far and police are interviewing alleged victims to see if any crime was committed.

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that complaints about Tyndall weren't properly address by USC for years and university officials never reported him to the medical board, even after he was quietly forced into retirement.

Tyndall, 71, denied wrongdoing in interviews with the Times and hasn't responded to phone calls and emails requesting comment from The Associated Press.

USC has said Tyndall was placed on administrative leave in 2016 and never returned to treating students after officials received a complaint from a staff member at the health clinic. The staff member alleged that Tyndall made inappropriate comments to a patient in front of medical assistants.

The university said it has previously reviewed complaints that Tyndall made racially inappropriate comments.

Nikias, 65, who became the university's president in 2010, had recently come under fire amid a string of scandals, including a report from the Los Angeles Times in July about how a USC medical school dean used drugs and partied with prostitutes.

A spokesman for USC said the university had no further comment.

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Associated Press writer Brian Melley contributed to this report.