5 Scandals Covered Up By Prominent Universities
Unlike corporations, big universities have done a pretty good job at keeping their reputations intact, despite the fact that they often have equally horrific skeletons in their closets. One reason for this is that it seems like prominent schools are really big on making sure the ugly parts stay a secret ... no matter how many lives get ruined in the process. Like how ...
USC Buried Complaints About An Abusive Gynecologist For Decades
The University of Southern California had only one full-time gynecologist from 1989 to 2017. George Tyndall examined thousands of students, many of whom had never had a gyno exam before and didn't know what to expect. There was always someone in the room, though, who did know what to expect: a female assistant, known as a "chaperone." And these chaperones noted that Tyndall did stuff that wasn't standard at all. For starters, he liked photographing students' genitals. He claimed there were valid reasons for this, but the chaperones didn't buy it, and when they reported him, USC made him stop ... but didn't fire him.
Years went by, and complaints kept coming, sometimes from chaperones and sometimes from students. Tyndall allegedly made patients disrobe fully so he could look at all of their skin (this too is not a standard part of a gynecological exam). There was apparently lots of verbal stuff -- complimenting students on their tight vaginas and "perky breasts." He also allegedly sought out Chinese students, which chaperones objected to, as foreigners could especially easily be misled about American medical norms. Worst of all was his alleged penchant for, well, using his fingers in a way that seemed to have no medical justification (feel free to click that link if you want the explicit details).
The university did not act until a chaperone finally stopped contacting administrators and went to USC's rape crisis center in 2016. A search then turned up photos of students' genitals in his office, and the university finally removed him. But if that was what they needed, it seems like they should have moved sooner, considering they first learned of such photos decades earlier. And Tyndall claims an administrator offered to close the investigation against him and pay him severance if he just agreed to resign.
But once news got out, it was (finally) out of USC's hands. A class-action lawsuit sprang up, and the university ended up agreeing to a settlement of $215 million, to be split between maybe 17,000 victims. That's separate from the 700 women pursuing claims against Tyndall individually. The university's president resigned, over both this and a separate scandal involving a dean partying with prostitutes and blow. None of that is the end of the story, because that hasn't come yet. Weeks before publication of this article, Tyndall was finally arrested and charged with 18 counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of sexual battery by fraud, with the possibility of more to come.
Yale Is Keeping Results From An Unethical Twins Experiment Secret Until 2065
The field of psychiatry has always been fascinated by twins. The inherent creepiness of such children is useful in the study of fear, their telepathic bond helps measure the limits of the human mind, and their identical DNA provides a perfect foundation for determining what's controlled by genes and what's controlled by other factors, I guess. Many studies have compared twins who were separated at birth. But Dr. Peter B. Neubauer, editor of a Yale psychiatric journal, was brave enough to go one step further and separate the twins himself.
In the '60s and '70s, Neubauer worked with an adoption agency, separating Jewish twins and triplets that were put up for adoption so that each baby went to a different family. He monitored the children in their early years without letting any of them or their families know of the nature of the research, or that they had siblings. The study was kept secret. News of it only came out when one set of triplets found each other accidentally (as recounted in the 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers) and a journalist traced their births and investigated what happened.
The very year after the study concluded in 1980, New York passed a law saying adoption agencies have to keep siblings together. As a result, Neubauer concluded that the public would turn against him if they learned what he'd done, so he never published. But his study may have done worse than just separate the kids. Neubauer deliberately chose adoptive mothers with mental illnesses that interested him, because he wanted to see the effects of this on the children. Of the 15 or so kids in the study, three have killed themselves. So to get this out of the way before we finish the entry, fuck you Dr. Neubauer, you dead asshole.
Neubauer's work has been compared to the twin experiments done by Josef Mengele. That may not be entirely fair, but the study does violate modern ethics norms, whereby research subjects must always give informed consent. To this day, most of the subjects have no idea they were in the study and have identical brothers or sisters out there ... but they could. Ten thousand pages related to the study are now housed at Yale, but they're being kept sealed until 2065. The reason for this appears to be that by that time, all the subjects of the experiment will almost certainly be dead. So feel free to speculate on what stuff in there is so awful that Neubauer never wanted the kids to learn of it. Or if you want to sleep tonight, maybe don't.
Harvard Held A Secret Court To Expel All Gay Students
In 1920, Harvard student Cyril Wilcox killed himself. He had been doing poorly in class, had recently withdrawn from the university, and had been ill. But his brother George knew something more was going on. The very previous day, Cyril had confided in him about being gay and being in a relationship with another man in Boston. George brought letters to the Harvard administration revealing that there appeared to be a whole circle of gay students who had infiltrated the fine institution. George also had several of their names, as he had beaten them out of Cyril's lover.
Harvard knew it had to act on this information, and its regular disciplinary process wasn't equipped to do so. So the university convened a special secret court run by five administrators. They interrogated the men whose names they had, and used them to find others. These interviews covered their relationships, their masturbation habits, and whether or not they had attended any particularly gay parties.
In the end, the court determined that 14 of the suspects were gay. Eight were students, and Harvard expelled them all. A couple of those students went on to kill themselves. One, Eugene Cummings, had been a dental student, and died by suicide before he even got his "verdict."
The whole operation remained unknown until 2002, when the Harvard student newspaper discovered a (physical) file labeled "secret court" in the archives. And if you're thinking that the court's actions were reprehensible but whatever, that was a hundred years ago, you might be interested to learn how many defenders it had when The Crimson printed its story. We had people like Pat Buchanan who argued Harvard had done well to protect the university's reputation, and at least some of the students in 2002 strongly agreed. Hell, you wonder why they bothered to cover it up at all, aside from their fear of the public finding out they had gay students in their midst.
A Baylor Coach Tried To Frame A Murdered Student As A Drug Dealer
In 2003, Baylor University had issued the maximum number of athletic scholarships it could, but it had a couple other recruits they really wanted on their basketball team. So coach Dave Bliss secretly paid the tuitions of Patrick Dennehy and Corey Herring himself. That might sound generous, if you're innocent to the sort of shenanigans that go on in college sports, but Bliss very much had Baylor's and his own interest in mind, and his actions violated NCAA rules. And he probably would have gotten away with it ... if Dennehy hadn't been murdered.
The murderer was a teammate with mental health issues, and eventually the crime was solved. As you might imagine, the whole university was traumatized, but no one was more anxious than Bliss, who cut past the mourning and focused on the most pressing issue, at least to him. It was only a matter of time until people poked around and realized that Bliss had been improperly paying the boy's tuition. Something had to be done.
So Bliss spread rumors that Dennehy, who was black, had been a drug dealer. That would "explain" where his tuition came from if investigators discovered that his parents weren't paying it and he had no scholarship. He instructed players on his team to lie to police when questioned, saying Dennehy dealt drugs (an assistant coach managed to tape Bliss ordering this). Meanwhile, Bliss also sought to cover up paying for Corey Herring's tuition by visiting his mother and asking her to lie too. He even impersonated Herring's father so he could make calls and try to find out how much police knew about the truth.
Thanks to the tapes, the cover-up failed, and other misdeeds Baylor had been hiding came out, including recruiting violations and failed drug tests. The NCAA punished Baylor, and Bliss resigned. But he went on to several other coaching gigs. And in 2017, he appeared in a documentary about the Baylor scandal, once again falsely saying Dennehy had been a drug dealer. This documentary reminded everyone that, oh yeah, Bliss had done some pretty shitty stuff, and days after it aired, Bliss resigned again.
Stanford's Founder Was Murdered, Then The Crime Was Covered Up For A Century
Stanford University was founded by Leland and Jane Stanford in 1885, and when Leland died in 1893, it fell to Jane to run the place pretty much singlehandedly. She sank all her money into it and controlled its curriculum, before eventually stepping back a little and letting the board of trustees do stuff. Then in 1905, when she drank some bottled water, she realized it tasted kind of funny. She forced herself to vomit, which saved her life, because it turned out the water contained a fatal dose of strychnine.
Phew, that was a close call. And after a shock like that, she really needed a vacation, so she sailed to Hawaii. And in her hotel in Oahu, she ordered some baking soda to settle her stomach. She drank it mixed with water, began convulsing, and this time the poison was so powerful that she didn't even have enough control over herself to vomit. A doctor noted that her fingers spasmed, her feet twisted, and her "thighs opened widely" (kinda weird detail to emphasize there, but doctors can't hold back). Her last words were, "My jaws are stiff. This is a horrible death to die." Jesus.
Investigators discovered strychnine in the baking soda. An inquest found that she'd been murdered, of course, but that was before Stanford president David Starr Jordan hired a shady doctor to dispute the findings. He insisted that she'd died of heart failure, and told this to the press before she was even buried. As a result, no murder inquiry was pursued. And for almost a century after this, biographies of Jane Stanford said she'd died of natural, strychnine-less causes, likely without telling a doctor how much it sucked to be dying this way.
It took until 2003, when a new book on the subject included the original autopsy and other evidence, for people to be like "Oh damn, this wasn't natural at all." Why was Jordan so keen on covering the murder up? Was he the culprit? Experts say ... eh, probably not. The more likely suspect is Jane's personal secretary, who was present at both poisonings, changed her story at various times over the years, and received the modern equivalent of $400,000 due to Jane's will. Jordan and the trustees covered up the murder presumably to just spare the university from scandal. After all, nothing damages a fragile university more than controversy. Except for, like, a giant damned earthquake, which arrived the following year and razed Stanford's buildings to the ground.
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