May 20, 2019

Student Sexual Abuse Silenced by Ohio State University for Decades: 180 Victims Accounted

Student Sexual Abuse Silenced by Ohio State University for Decades: 180 Victims Accounted

Recent reports state an athletic doctor at Ohio State University sexually assaulted nearly 180 male students under his care between 1978 and 1998. Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, retired with emeritus status despite the widespread known and credible allegations against him. According to the investigation, first announced in April 2018, these allegations were never reported to the police.

In a message from OSU’s president, Dr. Michael V. Drake, the university confirmed the investigation’s results, finding the results “shocking and painful to comprehend.”

“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse,” stated President Drake in the email released May 17. “Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable — as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members.”

In the investigation report released May 15, 2019, investigators found that Strauss sexually abused students for decades before finally being removed from his position in 1996. His actions were reported to the State Medical board of Ohio the same year. But OSU personnel likely knew of the abuse as early as 1979 and never reported to local authorities prior to Strauss’ removal.

10 former students assaulted by Strauss filed a lawsuit against OSU in July of 2018. A class action lawsuit was filed in July, as well. In the claim, the sexual abuse survivors assert that the university failed to adequately protect students from a sexual predator. 29 more men added their names to the initial complaint in November 2018.

In the complaint, the former students claim that Strauss groped patients and male athletes during examinations. The students said they reported their concerns about Strauss’ behavior to the university, but OSU did nothing to address their concerns. The 2018 investigation further revealed that many on the campus knew there was a problem with Strauss’s behavior and that it was frequently observed and question, but actions against Strauss were taken.

The investigation report reveals even more shocking details about Strauss’s behavior, investigators stating that “it was broadly known within the Athletics Department that Strauss showered alongside the male students at Larkin Hall - a practice unique to Strauss among the other team physicians and a practice that the student-athletes repeatedly complains about to their coaches.” The report also states that genital examinations conducted by Strauss were “unusually prolonged”, and “Strauss refused to allow athletic training staff to be present for these protracted genital examinations.”

In November 2018, the University tried to have the cases dismissed, but the release of the investigation results may change their stance on how to address the claims of these sexual abuse survivors.

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