A doctor working at the Ohio State University abused at least 177 men during his tenure at the school, OSU officials said today as they released the findings of an investigation undertaken by a private law firm hired by the university. What's more, school leaders at the time knew about the abuse, the report states.
Team doctor Richard Strauss abused athletes playing at least 16 sports at the university plus others who attended a campus health center and an off-campus clinic between 1979 and 1997, according to the investigation. Strauss was employed at OSU from 1978 to 1998.
OSU President Michael Drake called the alleged abuse a "fundamental failure" of the university and expressed "profound regret and sincere apologies to each person" whom Strauss abused.
The investigation comes after a series of lawsuits against OSU alleging the abuse. Some of the plaintiffs in those lawsuits say that more than 20 school officials — from athletic directors to now-U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, at one time an OSU assistant wrestling coach — knew about Strauss' actions. Jordan has denied knowledge of the incidents. Neither he nor the school's wrestling program are mentioned in the report released today, though many passages are redacted.
"The report concludes that university personnel at the time had knowledge of complaints and concerns about Strauss’ conduct as early as 1979 but failed to investigate or act meaningfully," a statement from OSU released today reads. "In 1996, Ohio State removed Strauss from his role as a physician in both the Department of Athletics and Student Health Services. His actions were reported to the State Medical Board of Ohio that same year. The report found that the university failed to report Strauss’ conduct to law enforcement. He was allowed to voluntarily retire in 1998 with emeritus status."
The two primary and related lawsuits against the school are headed to mediation under U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett. In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office is investigating whether OSU looked into allegations against Strauss in a timely manner.
Strauss killed himself 2005. OSU says it is in the process of revoking his emeritus status.