A foreign student who attended Ohio State in the 1980’s arrived in Columbus with little money in his pocket, but big dreams that he almost abandoned because of sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss.
The victim, “Rafael,” is choosing to remain anonymous.
“The name Richard Strauss brings fear to me,” Rafael said.
To help pay his tuition, Rafael got a job at Larkins Hall, where he says Strauss stalked him.
“He had a crush on me and he knew my work schedule,” Rafael said. “On the second floor of Larkins there was a small steam room and Strauss would always follow me there. He masturbated in front of me and then one day he came over, grabbed my legs and started giving me a massage.”
Rafael immediately ran out of the steam room.
“I was totally shocked when he violated me,” he said. “I went home and cried. Then I called my dad and he wanted me to come home, but I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want Strauss to ruin my life.”
Rafael’s desire to succeed stopped his dad from flying to Columbus and “kicking Strauss’s ass,” he said.
Even so, the stress of spending nearly 70 percent of his time at Larkins Hall made Rafael’s life unbearable. And when news of the Strauss scandal broke in April 2018, the horror came flooding back.
“When I saw his photo in the newspaper, I couldn’t sleep for days,” he said.
Rafael was molested four or five times over four years beginning in 1982.
His grades dropped as a result of the abuse.
“This guy made my life miserable. He was always there, following me around and intimidating me,” Rafael said. “I’d try to go the other way when I saw him. I was mentally a mess.”
Rafael did tell his Larkins Hall supervisor about the abuse and was ignored.
“My supervisor said, ‘Sorry that happened,’ and that was it,” Rafael said. “Today, I feel betrayed and abandoned. Now I realize it was wrong, but he was a doctor with power and I was just a young kid.”
Other than telling his supervisor all those years ago, Rafael has remained quiet about his abuse – until now.
“It feels good to tell my story and get it out of my system,” he said. “I know a lot of the athletes who were also abused and I feel for them. I realize I’m a victim, too, so I’d like to reach out to the other guys.”
To help each other heal.
An apology from the University would also help, he said.
“I want the University to recognize that this guy destroyed lives. Do you know what it’s like to go to work when you’re afraid of someone,” Rafael asked. “I’d really like to see this over with and see OSU admit they messed up. It really hurts.”
Rafael believes that one reason Ohio State hushed up the Strauss scandal is because of the power it wields.
“OSU is probably one of the top universities in the world,” he said. “Their reputation is sacred in Columbus – they probably thought something like this couldn’t really happen at Ohio State, so they didn’t deal with it.”
But now it’s time to pay the piper.
“I don’t really care about getting any money, but I truly think they should compensate everyone in the lawsuit. They ruined a lot of lives,” Rafael concluded.
Support survivors of Dr. Strauss sexual abuse by sharing your thoughts with the Board of Trustees. Email board members at: firstname.lastname@example.org