Newsletter: Essential California: The doctor at the center of the LAPD’s largest-ever sex abuse investigation


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Dec. 19, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Dr. George Tyndall arrived at the University of Southern California in the summer of 1989 to be the campus gynecologist. Now the 71-year-old physician’s life is now under intense scrutiny as detectives probe allegations that Tyndall sexually abused hundreds of patients over nearly three decades at USC, part of the largest ever LAPD sex-crimes investigation with a single suspect. Investigators are grilling his co-workers and poring over his possessions, including hard drives seized from his cluttered home and photos of unclothed patients found in a rented storage unit. Tyndall has denied all wrongdoing. Here’s the story of how the former Naval crypto-linguist ended up at the center of a scandal that led to the university’s president stepping down. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The Times published its first story about Tyndall’s alleged misconduct with young women in May. Within a week, 300 people had contacted the school, and the LAPD opened a sex-crimes investigation. You can read The Times’ coverage of what’s been happening at USC here. Los Angeles Times


What’s up with Weinstein?

In the six months since his arrest on sexual assault charges, Harvey Weinstein and his legal team have not hesitated to strike back at those who have accused him of wrongdoing. The women who say they were victims? Unreliable and opportunistic. The cops who investigated him? Corrupt. The prosecutors who obtained the indictment? Not interested in justice — merely bowing to the intense pressure brought on by a #MeToo movement that in many ways sees Weinstein as its arch-villain. Faced with accusations from nearly 80 women in New York, Los Angeles and London, Weinstein is in a tough legal fight, but his tactics have shown some short-term signs of success. Los Angeles Times

What will happen with that wall?

President Trump appeared to back away on Tuesday from threats to shut down parts of the federal government over his demands for billions for his border wall, though he left Congress unclear about what deal he would accept to avert closure after midnight Friday. Trump, who has been demanding $5 billion in additional wall funding, said last week during a meeting with Democratic House and Senate leaders that he would be “proud” to shut down the government if his demand wasn’t met. In an interview Tuesday morning with Fox News, however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion.” She did not offer specifics. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The United States on Tuesday announced it was adding millions of dollars to an ambitious Mexican development project for that country’s southern region and Central America as a way to deter migration. Los Angeles Times

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RIP: Penny Marshall, who costarred as a Milwaukee brewery worker in the top-rated 1970s and ’80s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before becoming a director of hit movies such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” has died. She was 75. Los Angeles Times

Fitting tribute: When Marshall knocked a classic out of the park, inspiring generations to come, in “A League of Their Own.” Los Angeles Times

It’s a tunnel, yup: Elon Musk unveiled his company’s first tunnel in Hawthorne, and it wasn’t a smooth ride. Los Angeles Times

Oy vey: Expect your public transit ride to LAX to take longer in January. The Green Line’s airport stop will shut for two weeks. Los Angeles Times

Summing it all up: Over the last year, the Los Angeles Times has published a series about a program that pays Los Angeles police and firefighters essentially double at the end of their careers. The latest installment looked at how those extra payments drove some former employees’ retirement income far over the limit the Internal Revenue Service allows pension funds to pay. The series has sparked calls for reform. Here is a breakdown of the key findings. Los Angeles Times


Good news for this family: It seemed that Shaima Swileh, a Yemeni national, who has been separated from her family for months because of the Travel Ban would not get a chance to see her 2-year-old before he died. But now Swileh has been granted a visa by the State Department. Los Angeles Times

An ugly border story: A Los Angeles-area man who was accused of trying to set up sexual encounters with children as young as 8 in Tijuana was sentenced to 17½ years in prison. San Diego Union-Tribune


Prepare the picket line: Los Angeles schools Supt. Austin Beutner called for the teachers union to settle a long-running contract dispute, citing a just-released fact-finders report as a framework for a deal. The union sees it differently. Los Angeles Times

Potentially good news: The number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and San Diego, two epicenters of the homelessness crisis, fell this year, suggesting those cities’ efforts to combat the problem could be starting to pay off. That occurred even as the total number nationwide went up. Los Angeles Times

Coincidence? “A former top executive at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said his recent retirement from the company was unrelated to regulators’ allegations that the utility falsified gas pipeline safety records for five years.” San Francisco Chronicle

His next act? “Gov. Jerry Brown is leaving, but he has plenty of political money to take with him. He’s sitting on $15 million in his campaign account.” Sacramento Bee


Pill mill accusations: An Irvine doctor suspected of prescribing opioids and other powerful narcotics to people without medical exams — including a man accused in a DUI crash that killed an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain — has been arrested, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

See you in court: Alfonso Ribeiro of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” fame has sued video game companies over use of the “Carlton Dance.” Los Angeles Times

High in the sky: Border patrol agents seized 129 pounds of narcotics worth $1.4 million and arrested two people after agents spotted a suspicious ultralight aircraft landing just north of Calexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Los Angeles Times

Settlement reached: Sonoma County has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit with the parents of a 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy who was fatally shot in 2013 by a sheriff’s deputy who mistook the boy’s plastic gun for an AK-47. Los Angeles Times


The warning signs: Officials knew the Carr fire could happen and failed to prevent it. ProPublica


At the Emerald Cup: Stoned on pot, but clear-eyed about legalization’s threat to California’s legendary cannabis culture. Los Angeles Times

Seven women, seven juicy roles: The Times’ actress roundtable. Los Angeles Times

Yum! Here are the 11 most anticipated L.A. restaurant openings in 2019. Eater Los Angeles

In Hollywood: The Anita Hill Commission — more formally, the Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality — announced Tuesday that it will prioritize protecting Hollywood’s thousands of freelance workers, who often have no access to traditional workplace structures or human resources departments.” The Hollywood Reporter

Here’s one Grammy Awards prediction: Adding more nominees in big categories just means more disappointment. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: sunny, 73, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 74, Thursday. San Diego: sunny, 68, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 71, Thursday. San Francisco area: foggy, 59, Wednesday; cloudy, 56, Thursday. San Jose: partly cloudy, 64, Wednesday; partly cloudy, 62, Thursday. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 62, Wednesday; cloudy, 56, Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Linda Mann:

“As a Los Angeles native, I remember playing outside with my neighborhood friends in the 1940s: hopscotch, jacks, bike riding, roller skating and ‘hit-the-bat’ right in the middle of Military Avenue! We played until our moms called us in for dinner, and after dinner in the summer until the streetlights went on.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.