(AP/RNN) - Two doctors allegedly abused their authority to prey upon young victims.
In one case, a disgraced University of Southern California gynecologist has led police to a collection of nude photographs that may be connected with the abuse alleged by his patients.
In another case, attorneys of patients who allege a New York doctor, now deceased, may have abused as many as 1,000 young patients over decades want to know what happened to the doctor’s photos. They fear the images may be circulating as child pornography.
Detectives in California were trying to determine whether nude photographs linked to a former University of Southern California gynecologist show any of the hundreds of women who allege he sexually harassed them during examinations.
The collection found in a self-storage unit rented by Dr. George Tyndall appeared to include homemade pornography — some of it decades old and featuring Tyndall with women apparently unconnected to the university — but also photos of unclothed women in what appeared to be a medical exam room, police Capt. Billy Hayes told the Los Angeles Times for an article published Tuesday.
The cache was found shortly after the Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into Tyndall last spring, the Times reported.
Police are looking into accusations by women that Tyndall took inappropriate photos and groped students under the guise of medical treatment during his three decades as a campus physician. Some students also said he made crude and inappropriate remarks.
Hundreds of current and former USC students have made allegations against Tyndall to the university, filed police reports or taken part in at least a dozen pending state lawsuits against the school. In October, USC agreed to settle a federal class-action suit on behalf of Tyndall's patients for $215 million.
Tyndall, 71, resigned last year. He has denied wrongdoing and said any photographs he took were for legitimate clinical and other medical purposes. He has not been charged with a crime.
Detectives are trying to determine whether any of the photographs found in the storage facility show patients at campus clinic appointments.
Detectives have asked about the color scheme of examination rooms and identifying features for the students, such as tattoos or jewelry they wore during their examinations, the Times said.
“He’s telling these young ladies that he is taking photographs for a study,” Hayes said. “If they are. in his storage facility, it doesn’t give credence to his statements to them that he was using (the photos) for research or to publish studies.”
John Manly, an attorney representing many former Tyndall patients, told the Times that between 10 and 20 of his clients were asked questions by police that seemed designed to identify them in photos.
"This plays into the worst nightmares of women," Manly said.
The Times said Tyndall's lawyer, Leonard Levine, declined to answer questions about the photos but said in a statement that Tyndall "is adamant that he has never sold, traded or shared any images of patients he examined while conducting medical examinations at USC."
The LAPD investigation is ongoing and a dozen detectives are traveling the country to interview former patients, the Times said. Detectives have presented cases involving 85 women to the sex crimes unit of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which will determine whether to file criminal charges.
A county grand jury also is hearing evidence about Tyndall. It has yet to issue any indictments.
In a statement Monday, USC said it is cooperating with the investigation.
Former patients of a doctor accused of molesting children at Rockefeller University Hospital in Albany, NY, for decades are demanding to know what happened to photos they say the physician took while the abuse was occurring.
The physician, Reginald Archibald, worked at the New York City hospital from 1948 to 1982 as an endocrinologist who specialized in childhood growth. Former patients have said that in addition to molesting them, he would photograph them naked for what he said was scientific research. Archibald died in 2007.
Peter Katsikis had only one appointment with Archibald, in 1969. He said Archibald directed him to remove his clothes; he touched him sexually and then took several photos of him in the nude. Katsikis was 12 and said it was his first sexual experience. He wouldn't tell anyone until he told his wife 26 years later.
The trauma changed him, he said, making him cynical and sometimes short-tempered as an adult. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are sexual assault victims unless they grant permission.
"I've replayed the episode a couple thousand times," said Katsikis, now 61, who lives in North Carolina. "It took me a couple years to sort things out as to what truly happened. I didn't know anything about sex at 12 years old. When I got older I started to get angry, because I realized he took away my innocence."
The hospital has acknowledged that Archibald's conduct with patients was "inappropriate" and has hired a law firm to investigate. Hospital officials have not, however, said whether any of the photographs were found in hospital records. Attorneys for former patients say more than 1,000 children may have been victimized.
The former patients and their attorneys held a news conference Tuesday in front of the hospital to demand more information about the whereabouts of the photos. The group says that if the hospital cannot say where the photos are, then it should ask the state attorney general to begin its own investigation into the records.
Questions about the whereabouts of the photos continues to haunt many of the former patients, according to Michael Pfau, an attorney with the Seattle-based firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, who is representing about 100 former patients.
The thought that the photos are now circulating as child pornography compounds his clients' pain and fear, Pfau said.
"Finding these photos is critical for our clients," he said. "Hopefully the hospital can do the right thing and accelerate the investigation."
A spokesman for the hospital declined to comment when asked about the photos Monday.
The hospital wrote to Archibald's former patients in September asking about their experiences and in October released a statement that it had discovered that Archibald "engaged in certain inappropriate conduct during patient examinations."
The hospital also said it notified authorities when it received a report in 2004 about Archibald's conduct. It says it changed some pediatric policies after an investigation at that time determined that "certain" of the allegations were credible.
Civil molestation suits against institutions in New York are now subject to one of the nation's tightest statutes of limitations, meaning that many of Archibald's alleged victims would not be able to sue the hospital. The case is likely to fuel efforts to pass the Child Victims Act, state legislation that would greatly expand the statute of limitations and create a window to sue for plaintiffs with decades-old allegations that are now prohibited by the statute.
Asked what he would do if any photos are found of his single appointment with Archibald, Katsikis paused briefly before answering.
“After the litigation is over,” he said, “let’s have them destroyed.”