Rafael’s Story

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: board@osu.edu

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,