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Background2018-10-11T07:38:55+00:00

OSU SEEKS TO DENY JUSTICE FOR SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIMS

The move comes even though the University’s “independent investigation” into the sexual abuse conduct by Dr. Richard Strauss has not been completed.

While Ohio State officials are defending the exorbitant $30 million in salaries paid to their coaches, they are also quickly moving to deny legal justice for hundreds of sexual abuse victims. Rather than taking the road paved by Michigan State when it worked out a settlement with hundreds of Larry Nassar sex abuse victims, the Ohio State University is moving in the opposite direction, taking steps to avoid accountability and responsibility for its failures that allowed Dr. Richard Strauss to molest hundreds, if not thousands, of OSU students and student-athletes.

Ohio State University hired Dr. Strauss as an attending physician and assistant professor in 1978. By 1981, Ohio State gave Dr. Strauss the authority to serve as team physician for 14 different team sports at the University. Despite the number of male athletes who immediately began talking about Dr. Strauss’ sexual misconduct, the Ohio State University did nothing to protect its student-athletes. In fact, the dean of Ohio State’s medical college in 1984, Manuel Tzagournis, characterized Strauss as an “outstanding individual in every sense.”

For nearly two decades, athletes whispered and talked while coaches and at least two athletic directors knew about the complaints against Dr. Strauss. Many of these former student-athletes have spoken to our Ohio State lawsuit team. They claim that the abuse was common knowledge and that Strauss was known to shower numerous times a day with the athletes. He was also known to walk around nude in the locker room, staring at the genitals of the young men.

At the beginning of the athletic season for each of the 14 teams under Dr. Strauss’ control, all athletes were required to have a physical examination. The sexually abused men all said that Dr. Strauss used these exams as an opportunity to hold, fondle, and play with genitalia. Any injury or illness would require his patients to “drop their shorts” and submit to unnecessary hernia checks, anal exams, and/or testicular fondling. He continued his pattern of sexual misconduct, without reprimand, until June 30, 1998, when he retired from the University with Emeritus status.

TENURE FOR DR. STRAUSS

During his tenure with Ohio State University, Strauss also became a part-time physician in mid-1994 with Ohio State’s Student Health Services, where he expanded his sexual predation of OSU’s male students beyond the locker rooms.  He left his post at Student Health Services in August 1996 after complaints, at which point he established his own private “men’s only” medical practice in Columbus, Ohio, specializing in treatments for sexually transmitted diseases and “genital/urinary” issues. The University allowed Dr. Strauss to recruit unsuspecting students for his medical clinic in the school newspaper, where he offered a student discount and saw student-athletes on a walk-in basis.

Ohio State quietly got rid of Dr. Strauss in mid-1998. His personnel file includes tenure-related letters from colleagues who praised him as a well-known author of articles in his field as well as a highly-respected educator although he did not retire as an Ohio State professor emeritus until mid-1998. Before retiring with tenure, it appears that OSU held a hearing on a complaint by a former OSU student. The results of that hearing are unknown, but Dr. Strauss retired with full tenure and Emeritus status shortly after that. He eventually moved to California, where he committed suicide in 2005. 

In April 2018, nearly forty years after the first victim of Dr. Strauss complained, the Ohio State University announced that it was investigating accusations that Strauss sexually abused athletes when he was the team doctor. In September 2018, with its investigation still incomplete, the University filed legal papers asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to dismiss litigation by the victims and deny them their right to justice, all based on a waivable technicality of law.

Timeline of Events

1964

1978

1981

1994

1996

1998

2005

  • Strauss dies in 2005, and it was later ruled a suicide.

April 2018

May 2018

  • Ohio State provides an update on the investigation on May 3.
  • According to the university statement, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office appointed Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP as legal counsel for the university. Porter Wright then engaged Perkins Coie LLP to conduct an independent investigation.

June 2018

OSU ATHLETICS – LAVISH SPENDING & PRIVATE JETS

This month, in a federal trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Ohio State University athletic director Eugene Smith admitted that salaries and benefits paid in the 2015 to 2016 season for Ohio State’s coaches totaled approximately $30.3 million. Smith’s testimony also revealed that his own annual base salary is nearly $1 million and includes multiple possible $50,000 bonuses that depend on how well OSU’s sports teams perform academically and athletically. Meanwhile, football coach Urban Meyer has a $7.6 million contract, with the potential for a $350,000 bonus for bowl participation and a $50,000 bonus if the athletes reach certain academic benchmarks. And OSU’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann earns nearly $3 million annually and has access to a private jet and golf course in his contract.

HOLD OSU ACCOUNTABLE – CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR 

The time has come for Ohio State University to accept responsibility for allowing Dr. Richard Strauss to sexually abuse hundreds of OSU students and student-athletes. The University refuses to voluntarily do the right thing for these victims—its own alumni. Make your voice heard and tell the University to be accountable for its behavior. Help these victims obtain the justice they deserve by filling out the below form and submitting a letter to your legislators.

WRITE TO LEGISLATORS

Help these victims obtain the justice they deserve by filling out the below form and submitting a letter to your legislators.

Write to Legislators

Dear Members of the Ohio General Assembly,

Ohio State University Dr. Richard Strauss is accused of abusing hundreds of Ohio State University athletes, students, and non-students. Allegations that have been brought to light in the wake of the University investigation reveal decades of institutional betrayal by the University, which was notified of these allegations, and failed to investigate or prevent further abuse.

In spite of these systematic failures to protect individuals under the University’s purview, the Ohio General Assembly has the opportunity to ensure that these victims are able to obtain the justice they deserve by changing the statute of limitations.

All of Strauss's victims are prohibited from taking legal action because Ohio's two-year statute of limitations expired long ago.

The Michigan Legislature, when faced with the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, took swift action to provide his victims with a retroactive right to sue regardless of the lapsed statute of limitations period. Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is currently considering similar action for victims of priest abuse. There is no excuse for those in power to fail to act and prolong the suffering of sexual abuse victims.

I ask Ohio legislators to have the courage to provide victims of sexual abuse a retroactive right to sue, which would ensure that OSU's victims are able to obtain justice; that the institutions which enabled sexual abuse are held accountable; and that the Ohio State community can begin the process of healing. By expanding the window for victims of OSU sexual abuse, the Ohio General Assembly has a unique opportunity to ensure that victims of sexual abuse are not deprived of their rights on a legal technicality and encourage lasting change for victims' rights in the state.

Signed,