Nearly 180 former Ohio State University students claim sexual abuse by doctor

Cheryl Sanders
May 20, 2019

Their reactions follow the university's release of a report Friday that found Dr. Richard Strauss groped, ogled or otherwise sexually mistreated at least 177 male students from at least 16 sports, and at the student health center and an off-campus clinic.

The report on Strauss, who took his life in 2005, could cost the university heavily by bolstering the lawsuits brought against it by a multitude of victims.

Upon releasing the report, university President Michael Drake offered "profound regret and honest apologies to each person who endured Strauss' abuse".

Sexual abuse by university doctors has come under increased scrutiny after the prosecution of Dr Larry Nasser, who was found to have abused hundreds of girls while working as a team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

Strauss, who killed himself at age 67 in 2005, almost a decade after he was allowed to retire with honours, abused the students from 1979 to 1997 at various locations across campus, including examining rooms, locker rooms, showers and saunas, according to investigators.

He called it a "fundamental failure" of the institution and thanked victims for their courage.

The report was the result of a yearlong investigation by the law firm the Perkins, Coie LLP and involved interviews with more than 500 former students and university employees.

"We observed that, in many cases, a student's most egregious experience of abuse did not occur during the student's first encounter with Strauss; rather, the abuse escalated over time, in a series of examinations with the student", the report states.

Student-athletes interviewed by investigators recalled numerous instances of athletics department personnel witnessing Strauss' behavior firsthand, or being present for conversations about it. Students openly discussed Strauss' examination methods and loitering in the locker room in the presence of athletics department personnel.

"This is not the university of today", he added.

"Dreams were broken, relationships with loved ones were damaged, and the harm now carries over to our children as many of us have become so overprotective that it strains the relationship with our kids", Kilgore said on a website set up for victims.

The State Medical Board of OH said it never disciplined Strauss but acknowledged having confidential records about the investigation of a complaint involving him.

Drake also said "we offer our profound regret and honest apologies to each person who endured Strauss' abuse".

'If OSU refuses to take responsibility, we will continue with civil litigation and put this in front of a jury for 12 people to judge their actions'.

The report revealed faculty knew about his alleged conduct as early as 1979 but failed to investigate.

It said investigators "could not make conclusive determinations about each and every allegation made about a particular coach's knowledge".

He continued to plead for his job back as an on-campus doctor, finally going to then-President Gordon Gee with a letter in 1997.

Gee, whose first stint as OSU president was from 1990 to 1997, now oversees West Virginia University in the same role.

An attorney who is preparing a lawsuit against Ohio State University on behalf of more than 50 former athletes who say they were abused by a team physician says most of those clients were football players from the school's storied program, including well recognized stars who went on to the NFL. They seek unspecified damages.

But investigators also say they received reports of abuse by Strauss at other facilities including Woody Hayes Athletic Center, St. John Arena, the OSU Ice Rink, Ohio Stadium, and Jesse Owens Recreation Center. But investigators do not have any other firsthand accounts of the behavior in relation to those activities.

Accusers had alleged that more than 20 school officials and staff members, including a former coach who is now a United States congressman - Jim Jordan - were aware of concerns about the doctor's conduct, but failed to address it.

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