More than 150 former Ohio State athletes have come forward to say they were abused by Richard Strauss during his 20-year tenure as the University’s team doctor.
Some are speaking publicly about their experiences, while others prefer to remain anonymous. Either way, their stories need to be heard.
This story is about an anonymous athlete, “Thomas,” who was a member of the varsity hockey team in the late 1980s. He was, therefore, subjected to physicals that were conducted by Dr. Strauss.
I recently realized how much of a scar these incidents have left on me.
Thomas described what happened when he was called into a private room so Strauss could check him for hernias.
“I can recall vividly that he would start the physical by sitting on a stool directly in front of me, which would put his head at about the height of my penis,” Thomas said. “He made me take off my shorts and underwear – it was not acceptable to just pull them down to my knees – he said he needed them completely off to conduct a thorough examination.”
I think he stopped because he was unable to arouse me.
After completing the hernia check, Strauss asked, “How was your summer?”
“I responded, ‘Good. How was yours?’ Then, I stood there naked, with my shorts and underwear in my hand, as Strauss lifted my penis toward my belly button and fondled my testicles. This lasted for 5-10 minutes until he finally said, ‘It must not have been too good, I don’t see any diseases.’ That’s when he stopped the examination. I think he stopped because he was unable to arouse me.”
A second incident occurred a few months later, when Strauss asked Thomas to be photographed in the locker room on a Sunday – the team’s day off.
“He asked if I’d like to be photographed so I could send the pictures home to my mother and girlfriend,” Thomas said. “This is where my story becomes difficult to tell because it’s quite embarrassing. I remember Strauss convincing me to take several pictures with my shirt off, telling me how much my girlfriend would love getting these pictures mailed to her. For some reason, I agreed.”
Thomas said nothing else happened after that “humiliating” incident.
The Emotional Harm is Lifelong
Over the years, Thomas told his story to family and friends, which helped him bury his emotions. But his feelings bubbled to the surface recently when he was interviewed by investigators from a law firm that was hired to look into the Strauss allegations.
“It reminded me just how much these incidents scarred me,” Thomas said. “After I finished talking to the investigators, it took me several minutes just to compose myself so I could go on with my day. I find it very difficult to talk to anyone, other than my family and friends, without breaking down and getting emotional.”
Ohio State Allows Dr. Strauss to Sexually Abuse Students
Thomas is an unnamed plaintiff in the federal class action lawsuit that was filed in July by a group of four nationally prominent law firms. The lawsuit alleges Ohio State knew of Strauss’s ongoing sexual abuse and did nothing to stop it.
But Thomas says he discussed Strauss’s inappropriate behavior with William R. (Bill) Davis, who was OSU’s assistant athletic trainer from 1984-94.
“Bill approached me and another one of my teammates, who had a similar experience, inquiring about the inappropriateness of our physical exams,” Thomas said. “We told Bill the entire story and he seemed very concerned. I thought he was doing his own investigation, but I was never asked about the incident again.”
Thomas’ recollection bears out the lawsuit’s allegation that “OSU kept the complaints (against Strauss) secret to avoid negative publicity, despite their actual knowledge of such misconduct, so that during his time at OSU Strauss had unfettered access to students at OSU.”