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Around the same time that former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser was being sentenced to hundreds of years in prison for molesting over 250 young women under the guise of medical exams, reports surfaced of similar behavior by a former Ohio State physician, only the abuse involved young men and stretched back as far as the late 1970s.
Richard Strauss, who retired from OSU in 1997 and killed himself in 2005, has been accused of sexually abusing at least 177 male student-athletes and other male undergraduates for almost two decades, and a recently released report revealed that university personnel were aware of complaints made against Strauss from the beginning.
"OSU had actual notice of and was deliberately indifferent to the fact that Richard Strauss, M.D., an OSU employee, tenured faculty member, and the associate director of OSU's sports medicine program, sexually assaulted and abused hundreds of male OSU student-athletes and other male OSU undergraduates for over 19 years," claims a new lawsuit, filed by 37 former students: "OSU officials aided, abetted, and actively concealed Strauss' sexual predation."
Other lawsuits estimate Strauss may have abused "1,500 to 2,500 male student athletes" during his tenure, including members of OSU's baseball, cheerleading, cross country, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, and wrestling teams. And former patients at the school's Student Health Services have also come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Strauss.
Ohio State trustees also revoked Strauss's emeritus status, something the university says it's never done before.
"Investigators concluded that university personnel at the time had knowledge of complaints and concerns about Strauss' conduct as early as 1979," according to a summary of the independent report compiled by law firm Perkins Coie, "but failed to investigate or act meaningfully." The report also indicates Strauss may have abused high school-aged students while at the university, and includes allegations that Strauss abused patients at his private practice after leaving the university in 1996.
Allegations have also involved Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at OSU from 1987 to 1995. Eight former wrestlers said that Jordan either was or should have been aware of Strauss's abuse, but did nothing. Jordan denies witnessing any misconduct by Strauss and said, "I would have done something about it" had he seen it.
The latest lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages, including medical expenses related to the abuse, and damages for emotional pain and suffering.
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