The Ohio State University to Create National Campus Sexual Abuse Task Force After Strauss Revelations

The task force comes after revelations that former team doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused at least 177 people during a 20-year stint at OSU

May 31, 2019 at 12:13 pm
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Ohio State University
OSU campus

In the wake of revelations that now-deceased team doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused at least 177 people over the course of almost two decades, the Ohio State University will create a national campus sexual abuse task force.

OSU President Michael Drake announced the launch of the task force May 31 at the university's monthly board of trustees meeting. 

The task force will include survivors of sexual abuse and experts on the issue, among others. The group will have access to information gathered in an independent investigation by law firm Perkins Coie to inform efforts to avoid future abuse.

“This issue remains prevalent in our society, and we will use the lessons of the past to play a leadership role in confronting the problem,” Drake said during the board meeting.

Drake earlier this month called the abuse Strauss inflicted on students between 1979 and 1997 a "fundamental failure" of the university and expressed "profound regret and sincere apologies to each person" whom Strauss abused.

The investigation came 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 May 17 read. "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 in 2005. OSU's board will likely revoke his emeritus status today.