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

18 May, 2019, 03:47 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Dr. Richard Strauss

Dr. Richard Strauss, an Ohio State team doctor and sports medicine researcher, is accused of sexually abusing at least 177 men over an 18-year period from 1979 to 1997, almost his entire time at Ohio State, according to the report.

Accusations against Strauss, who retired from OSU in 1998 and committed suicide in 2005, run the gamut.

Upon releasing the report, university President Michael Drake offered "profound regret and honest apologies to each person who endured Strauss' abuse". "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". OSU says it is in the process of revoking his emeritus status. "We could not make conclusive determinations about each and every allegation made about a particular coach's knowledge; a number of coaches denied (or did not recall) being aware of any complaints or even rumors about Strauss, and - as noted above - we did not locate documentary evidence indicating otherwise".

What's more, school leaders at the time knew about the abuse, the report states.

Dr. Richard Strauss was molesting male athletes for decades, a new independent report found, while coaches and administrators knowingly turned a blind eye.

In 2018 school officials retained the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP to conduct an independent investigation that ultimately involved interviews with more than 200 former students and university staff, including more than 100 former students who reported firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct committed by Strauss.

The report released Friday quoted a former student as saying that Strauss' behavior was an "open secret" in the athletic department, and that 22 coaches confirmed to the investigative team that they'd heard rumors and complaints about Strauss from the late 1970s through the mid 1990s. Students also said the abuse was nearly a "rite of passage" or "hazing" ritual that athletes had to go through.

"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", Kent Kilgore, a survivor of Strauss' abuse, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

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Similar sex scandals in recent years have embroiled top officials at several major USA institutions of higher education, including Penn State University, Michigan State University and the University of Southern California.

"We hope that the report will force OSU to take responsibility for its failure to protect young students", Steve Estey, an attorney representing some of the victims, said in a statement. The investigation found that Strauss, among other things, forced student patients to strip naked, purportedly to "assess" their conditions, or lured them into intimate situations by setting up bogus "medical studies". "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.

The allegations against Strauss - who died by suicide in 2005 - emerged past year after former Ohio State athletes came forward to claim the doctor had sexually abused them under the guise of a medical examination. The school eventually removed him from his departments, but it kept him on as a tenured faculty member.

Neither that congressman, Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, nor any other coaches are mentioned by name in the report.

The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is now investigating whether the university dealt with students' complaints "promptly and equitably". Strauss took his own life in 2005.

No one has publicly defended him, though his family has said it was shocked by the allegations. The board said it never disciplined him. His actions were reported to the State Medical Board of OH that same year.

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