A newly issued report alleges that Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss abused male students while he was a physician there. Starting in 1979, Strauss abused at least 177 students while he worked as a physician at the Athletics and Student Health departments.
The report from the law firm Perkins Coie said that Strauss would conduct genital examinations that were “unusually prolonged” and it was “broadly known” within the Athletics Department that Strauss showered alongside male students—which led students to “repeatedly” complain about the behavior to their coaches. No “meaningful action” was taken by the school until 1996.
That year, a student accused Strauss of “fondling him during a genital examination.” The university suspended him and took up a “very limited investigation” of Strauss’s complaint history. Although Strauss was permanently removed from the Athletics and Student Health department, he was allowed to keep his tenure as a faculty member. After he was removed, Strauss allegedly opened a “private, off-campus ‘men’s clinic’ where he continued to sexually abuse OSU students”:
During this period, Strauss persisted in protesting his removal from Athletics and Student Health to the various University officials. Despite these efforts, Strauss was ultimately told in October 1997 that the University would not consider reinstating him as a physician in Athletics or Student Health. Shortly thereafter, Strauss determined that he would retire from the University. Upon his voluntary retirement on March 1, 1998, Strauss received the “emeritus” honorific from OSU, which her maintained until his death in 2005.
“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse,” Ohio State President Michael V. Drake wrote in a statement today. “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.” He added, “this independent investigation was completed because of the strength and courage of survivors. We thank each of them for their willingness to share their experiences.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was ensnared in this scandal when several former wrestlers publicly accused Jordan of ignoring complaints against Strauss while Jordan was the Ohio State University’s assistant coach.
When these allegations came out against him, Jordan said the following:
We knew of no abuse, never heard of abuse. If we had, we would have reported it. If, in fact, there’s problems, we want justice for the people who were victims, obviously, and as I said, we are happy to talk with the folks who are doing the investigation. But the things they said about me just were flat-out not true.
[Image via WCMH screengrab]