Former wrestler: OSU knew Dr. Strauss was a sexual predator
A former Ohio State wrestler who was abused by Dr. Richard Strauss in the mid-1990’s described the doctor as being a “predator to hundreds of adolescent males and very young men entering adulthood,” and whose sexual abuse of male athletes was allowed to continue for 20 years, even though adults in authority knew what was going on.
Everybody knew and they didn’t do anything. It happened to me personally around 15-20 times and it still makes me sick to my stomach.
“It was a common joke among male athletes in different male sports, but that was just on the surface. There is no joking when people are being molested. The sick thing is my coaching staff certainly knew this guy was bad news. Everyone knew.”
The former wrestler, “Donald,” has asked to remain anonymous. But he’s going public with his story to encourage the Ohio legislature to change the statute of limitations. The change in the law will allow Donald and other former athletes to proceed with their class action lawsuit.
Preyed Upon by Dr. Strauss
Donald’s story really begins in high school. He was sexually active as a teenager and caught a lifelong STD. This would set the stage for his unfortunate relationship with Strauss from then on.
“I called Strauss in the spring of 1994 and confided in him that I had contracted herpes the year before, but never told anyone because I was ashamed and extremely embarrassed. I felt gross, not knowing where to go. As a result, I went to Strauss since I considered him to be our primary doctor. He told me during my 1993 freshmen physical that he specialized in sexually transmitted diseases and was a part of Harvard’s medical board, so I felt safe. But that was the furthest thing from the truth.”
Donald said again, “I didn’t know who else to go to — I hadn’t told anybody before.”
In the early stages of his disease, Donald often had to take medicine to prevent breakouts.
But the medication came with a steep price.
Donald sometimes met Strauss at the team training office, but on 8-10 occasions he was required to pick-up his medicine after hours at Strauss’s home. Strauss would lead Donald to his upstairs bedroom where he would perform his sexual “evaluation.”
He always made me lay down on his bed, asking me to remove all my clothes, including my shirt, and he’d play with my penis for a long time when he didn’t have to.
One time he said I had a nice penis, that it was a very ‘nice size.’ Other times he would say it was common place for me to get hard while doing his examinations. This was his intent and he verbally said it was OK. It was disgusting being a heterosexual male because at times I did get an erection, while mentally going to a different place to escape what was happening to me. It was like what you hear women do when they’re being raped; as it keeps you from having to digest the immediate pain. That was me on his bed. That’s what I had to go through to just get simple medicine to help me,” Donald said. “I gave away my power because I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone else to know I had herpes.”
Even the flu didn’t stop Strauss from taking advantage of the young athletes in his care, Donald said.
“If you had the flu he’d check the glands in your crotch when he could have checked the glands in your neck,” he said. “He’d have me get on the bed and he’d caress my chest, all the while commenting on what good shape I was in. I couldn’t wait to get dressed and get the hell out of there, but as I was dressing he’d run his hands over my buttocks, while looking me up and down. It was utterly disgusting.”
Equally as disgusting was the fact that Strauss had a locker in almost every male locker room on campus.
As soon as we were done with practice, he’d automatically go to his locker and then he’d shower with us and rub his crotch.
“He had no business in our locker room. Why would coaches allow this? He didn’t work out and he never even lifted a weight, but he’d take three showers a day. Again, why did coaches and Ohio State allow this to happen?”
Donald described an athletic facility where athletes showered alongside members of the public, some of whom leered at the athletes.
“It was an extremely toxic atmosphere,” he said. “I complained about it to the head wrestling coach, but it continued. I had to eventually stop taking showers there and go to class soaking wet from sweat.”
Trying to Heal from the Harm
For years, Donald shut out the pain caused by Strauss, but eventually got treatment from a spiritual adviser, who helped him open up about his abuse.
“It’s absolutely tough, it affects you for the rest of your life,” he said. “I meditate every day to heal myself. This may be in the past, but Strauss inflicted a lot of pain on a lot of boys and young men who deserve their day in court. The University needs to own up to what happened. I see zero difference between myself, the other male victims and what happened to the unfortunate girls at Michigan State.”
We may not have been penetrated by fingers but he took something away from me every single time I laid down to get examined. It still brings tears to my eyes talking about it all these years later.