Victims appeal to Ohio General Assembly, launch efforts to change statute of limitations law

Hundreds of Ohio State alumni had their lives turned upside down last year when the University announced it would investigate allegations that a former campus doctor had raped and abused male students for nearly 20 years. In May of 2019, after spending more than $6.5 million, the University released a report by the Perkins Coie law firm showing that 177 former students were abused by Dr. Richard Strauss but worse, that dozens of Ohio State officials knew of the abuse and did nothing.

The doctor, Richard Strauss, is deceased. But the dirty little secret revealed by last year’s outing caused anxiety and pain among victims, many of whom had remained silent for decades.

They were ashamed.

Sure, there were locker room whispers about Strauss and many victims joked about calling him names like “Dr. Clean” because he showered four or five times a day with athletes.

The “guys” may have laughed it off, but we know now that Strauss was a dangerous predator who destroyed lives. 

The timeline

There’s ample evidence that he was a sexual abuser – our timeline shows the first complaint against him was made in 1979 – and that University officials knew about the abuse all along.

But the University did nothing to help victims back then and, instead of helping them now, OSU lawyers have worked non-stop to dismiss the class action lawsuit that was filed on behalf of all victims.

Their arguments to dismiss are based on Ohio’s statute of limitations law that says adult sex abuse victims have just two years from the date they were abused to file a lawsuit.

These cases occurred in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. 

Members of the Ohio General Assembly who are fed up with the University’s refusal to help Strauss’s victims have introduced legislation to change the statute of limitations.

Support HB 249

That’s why we need your help. Legislators need to hear from their constituents that House Bill 249 (HB 249) should be passed as soon as possible.

Please sign our letter of support here. You’ll be sending an unequivocal message to the University that “enough is enough.”  

Strauss wasn’t just any doctor on campus – he was a team doctor who gave physicals to male athletes from 14 different sports like wrestling, gymnastics, volleyball and swimming.

Strauss also worked at the OSU health center and  operated an off-campus clinic where he abused young men.

Most, if not all, of Strauss’s victims were teenagers who had just left home for the first time. Please click here for their stories but know, too, that some details are explicit. It simply boggles the mind to think that a well-respected institution like Ohio State would allow the type of behavior our victims describe to continue for 20 years.

These men deserve justice. Their voices deserve to be heard. And they need to be able to go forward with their lives knowing that Ohio State will never allow this to happen again. 

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WRITE TO YOUR OHIO LEGISLATORS

Help sexual abuse victims have their day in court by supporting HB 249. Fill out the form below to members of the Ohio General Assembly

Write to Legislators
Dear Members of the Ohio General Assembly,

I’m writing today in support of HB 249. The statute of limitations needs to be changed in order to help Dr. Richard Strauss’s Ohio State victims.

Most of Strauss’s victims were teenagers whose parents entrusted their futures to Ohio State.

But the University failed these young men by repeatedly ignoring complaints that Strauss was a sexual predator who was abusing students.

Two independent investigations have revealed decades of institutional betrayal by the University. It’s abundantly clear that the University won’t voluntarily right this wrong, so I encourage you and other Legislators to enact and support legislation to support HB 249 and amend the statute of limitations for Dr. Strauss abuse victims.

It is the moral obligation of all Ohioans to make sure sexual abuse victims have the right to pursue justice and hold our institutions accountable.

THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE

States around the country have passed similar statutes of limitation windows or overall reforms. In the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, Michigan passed legislation to allow victims a retroactive right to sue in spite of lapsed statutes of limitation.  Meanwhile, a new wave of sexual abuse scandals in Pennsylvania has resulted in a formal recommendation by the Attorney General for reforming the state’s statutes of limitation laws to grant victims an opportunity to seek legal recourse. Fourteen other states are currently considering comparable legislation. The controversies surrounding Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein have also raised awareness for the difficulties facing victims who have not come forward within the limitation periods in their jurisdiction.

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