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Today’s Headlines: USC’s $1.1-billion payout

USC's student health center
USC will pay $1.1 billion to settle decades of sex abuse claims against gynecologist George Tyndall, who worked for many years at the Engemann Student Health Center.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The payout to patients of a former USC gynecologist ranks as the largest sexual abuse settlement in American higher education.

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USC ‘s $1.1-Billion Payout

USC has agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion to former patients of campus gynecologist George Tyndall. It’s the largest sex abuse payout in higher education history in the U.S.

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The huge sum was revealed in Los Angeles County Superior Court as lawyers for a final group of 710 women suing the university told a judge they had settled their claims for $852 million. USC previously agreed to pay thousands of other alumnae and students $215 million in a 2018 federal class-action settlement. A group of about 50 other cases were settled for an amount that has not been made public.

The sole full-time gynecologist at the student health clinic from 1989 until 2016, Tyndall was accused of preying on a generation of USC women. After The Times exposed his troubled history at the university three years ago, the 74-year-old was stripped of his medical license and arrested. He has pleaded not guilty to dozens of sexual assault charges and is awaiting trial.

The settlement far exceeds the scale and cost of other sex abuse scandals, including those that roiled the Archdiocese of L.A., Michigan State University and Penn State. For Tyndall’s former patients, it brings a set of mixed reactions.

Vaccines for People 16 and Older

California is dramatically expanding the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, offering the shots to virtually all residents 16 and older beginning next month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Residents who are at least 50 years old can get vaccines starting April 1, and all Californians 16 and older will be eligible starting April 15. State officials said the dramatic move is based on expected increases in vaccine supply.

California’s move to universal adult eligibility would come about two weeks before the May 1 target set by the Biden administration. A growing number of states, including Alaska, West Virginia and Mississippi, have previously expanded eligibility to residents 16 and older.

But as has been the case throughout the rollout, eligibility does not guarantee immediate access to an appointment. The timing of scheduling appointments also remains somewhat of an open question. Here are some ways to figure out how to get a shot.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— It’s not Tuskegee. Current medical racism fuels Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy.

— Most of the coronavirus samples analyzed in Los Angeles County last week were found to be variants that are believed to spread more readily, officials said.

— The White House said that it would dedicate an additional $10 billion to try to drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates in low-income, minority and rural enclaves throughout the country.

Restricting Cash Bail

For years, California legislators and judges have tried to reform the state’s money bail system to reduce discrimination against the poor. On Thursday, four months after voters rejected such a reform, the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require defendants to remain behind bars simply because they cannot afford bail.

In a unanimous decision, the state’s top court told judges to favor pretrial release and consider a person’s ability to pay before setting bail.

The ruling is likely to lead to many more people being released without bail before they go to trial. Judges may keep criminal defendants locked up only when “clear and convincing” evidence shows there is no other way to protect the public and ensure the defendants’ return for court appearances.

Biden’s ‘Next Major Initiative’

President Biden opened the door to skirting the Senate’s filibuster rule for Democrats’ voting rights bills, acknowledged the U.S. military would not leave Afghanistan on schedule and defended his handling of migrants on the southern border during his first formal news conference since taking office.

In the hourlong session Thursday, he also began to outline his “next major initiative” — ambitious plans to invest in the country’s infrastructure and schools, to be detailed next week — and seemed unbothered by the possibility that Republicans in Congress wouldn’t offer their support.

“There’s so much we can do that’s good stuff, makes people healthier and creates good jobs,” he said.

More Politics

— Lawmakers lit into the leaders of Facebook, Google and Twitter for the role of their companies in the Capitol riot and a failure to fairly and effectively police content on their platforms, in a tense hearing during which the firms were warned a crackdown is coming.

— The Supreme Court expanded the Constitution’s protection against an “unreasonable seizure,” ruling that a person who is shot by a police officer may sue, even if he or she was able to drive away without actually being detained or held.

— Judges are banning some Capitol riot suspects from using the internet.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

A man named Eiler Larsen was born in Denmark, but it was in Laguna Beach that he found a real home, serving as the city’s official greeter for decades.

A March 28, 1970, Los Angeles Times story spotlighted Larsen in celebration of his 80th birthday. He arrived in Laguna Beach in 1942 and quickly took to waving to tourists and welcoming them in his signature booming voice. Some residents found him too loud and tried to silence him, only to have then-Mayor William Martin name him the official greeter.

By 1970, Larsen was so beloved, The Times reported he lived rent-free in the Hotel Laguna and the Masters Division of the Chamber of Commerce paid his medical bills. He died in 1975.

A man with a beard stands on the sidewalk and waves
March 27, 1970: Celebrating his 80th birthday, Eiler Larsen waves to tourists in Laguna Beach.
(Vince Streano / Los Angeles Times)

YOUR WEEKEND

— Looking for Passover desserts? Here are 10 to try.

— Get cooking on an Easter feast as a tribute to the best of spring.

— If you were to visit San Francisco on a trip now, here’s what you’d find.

— Nineteen culture picks at home, including “The Thanksgiving Play” with Keanu Reeves and “Afrofuturism” with Sterling K. Brown.

CALIFORNIA

— A homeless encampment that took over a large swath of Echo Park for more than a year appeared on the brink of extinction as city officials fenced off the area and police prepared to remove the relatively few remaining campers. A Times reporter was briefly detained by the Los Angeles Police Department as he was covering the protest.

— An investigation said the sinking of a Marine amphibious vehicle off the San Diego coast in July that killed nine service members was the result of failed maintenance and human errors, including a delay in evacuating troops until 45 minutes after water first started leaking into the vehicle.

— A new plan at Disneyland calls for squeezing new attractions, shops and eateries into underdeveloped areas of the existing resort.

— In what appears to be an epic search for territory and mates, a gray wolf from Oregon has ventured hundreds of miles into California — traveling farther than any other wolf has traveled in modern times and upending scientific assumptions.

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NATION-WORLD

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp drew protests as he signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.

— With the last votes tallied, the outcome of Israel’s latest election now appears to rest in the hands of small parties, including an upstart Arab Islamist group whose surprise showing has redrawn the political landscape. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is left without a clear path forward.

— Hundreds of Uyghurs staged protests in Ankara and Istanbul, denouncing Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Turkey and demanding that the Turkish government take a stronger stance against human rights abuses in China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

— A new Suez Canal crisis: How a ship got stuck and what it means for global trade.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Jessica Walter, whose acting career spanned six decades and included signature roles on “Arrested Development” and “Archer,” has died. She was 80.

— After six seasons, NBC’s “Superstore” came to an end with a final announcement, a backyard barbecue and a glimpse of employees’ lives after Cloud 9.

— Netflix’s apolitical “Shtisel” faces a new test with its latest season: the clout of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox.

— After more than 10 years with Sundance Institute, Keri Putnam will step down from her position as chief executive of the organization later this year.

BUSINESS

— The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to 684,000, dropping to its lowest level since the pandemic began.

— As the pandemic drags on, workers are looking to their employers for mental health support. Many aren’t getting it, advocates say.

SPORTS

— When Dodger Stadium reopens this season, about 11,000 fans will be able to sit in pods of two, three, four, five or six seats, the team announced as part of its COVID-19 safety protocols.

— After months of waiting, the indoor high school basketball season finally started in Los Angeles County. The protocols and precautions to actually play in a gym were plentiful.

For more high school sports coverage, sign up for our new Prep Rally newsletter.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— The closure of Echo Park Lake should not have been a surprise move by the city, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— A successful Green New Deal will need private partners, writes Scott Minerd, the global chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners and chairman of Guggenheim Investments.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Welcome to #BookTok, a niche corner of TikTok where young bookworms are sharing recommendations, crying on camera — and giving a jolt to the publishing industry and bestseller lists. (New York Times)

— In India, two women are trying to encourage the use of expletives that do not use gender, community, caste or disability in a demeaning way. (Atlas Obscura)

ONLY IN L.A.

Much of this year’s Pac 12 success during March Madness got its start in 2018 on the Compton Magic basketball team. There was something special about that 17-and-under squad — then and now. The Mobley brothers, Evan and Isaiah, carried USC to its first Sweet 16 since 2007. UCLA’s Johnny Juzang poured in 67 points over three games, the best scoring stretch of his collegiate career to date. And Oregon State’s Jarod Lucas proved essential in upsets over Tennessee and Oklahoma State, scoring 29 combined and pacing the Beavers from three-point range. Though it’s been three years since they all played together in Compton, they’ve kept in close contact.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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