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Nearly 1,500 reports of sexual assault were filed against a now-deceased Ohio State University doctor who worked at the school for two decades, the college disclosed Tuesday.
The accused doctor, Richard Strauss, died by suicide in 2005. He primarily treated student athletes, and often victimized male wrestlers under the guise of giving them medical care. He allegedly showered with athletic teams, and former students told investigators that his abuse was an “open secret,” according to NPR. The university, which has been accused by some victims of failing to address the doctor’s abuse, employed Strauss in their athletic department and at a student health center between September 1978 and March 1998.
Claims against Strauss are still trickling back to campus authorities, though. Earlier this year, 177 male victims came forward with their sexual abuse allegations during an exhaustive university-commissioned probe.
Through the federal Clery Act, universities are required to disclose campus crime statistics and the rate of police reports each year, which is why OSU just revealed that 992 instances of fondling and 30 instances of rape were reported in 2018. This year, people have reported over 437 instances of fondling and 17 instances of rape related to Strauss’s tenure.
It’s unclear how many people reported those crimes, as one victim often reports multiple incidents of abuse. But the report does mention that there’s crossover between the 177 male victims included in the university investigation earlier this year and the nearly 1,500 incidents disclosed Tuesday.
University staff were made aware of Strauss’s abusive history as early as 1979, according to NPR, but failed to act until the concerns were elevated to officials outside of student health or athletics departments in 1996. After that point, Strauss was suspended from working as a physician. He then voluntarily retired in 1998.
“He proceeded to do a full-body exam, including my genitalia area, which is completely unorthodox because I was there for my chest,” one former Ohio State student, Steve Snyder-Hill, told NPR. He also said he wrote a letter to the school informing officials.
Over the course of his two-decade career, Strauss abused at least 48 wrestlers, according to the investigative report the university commissioned from an outside law firm, Perkins Coie. Last year, four former wrestlers sued OSU with allegations that the school had willingly ignored their abuse. The lawsuit and subsequent stream of allegations have also put Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan under scrutiny, as he was the university’s assistant wrestling coach between 1986 and 1994. Jordan has repeatedly said he had no knowledge of any accusations against Strauss.
The doctor’s victims aren’t the first to accuse OSU of ignoring or failing to address incidents of abuse. Last year, it was revealed that the university’s football coach, Urban Meyer, failed to inform the university of domestic abuse and misconduct allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer was suspended from coaching three games due to the incident, although said he hadn’t actively participated in a cover-up.
Cover image: Steven Snyder-Hill, who claims that a former team doctor for The Ohio State University, Dr. Richard Strauss, now dead, abused him while he was a student, is interviewed at his lawyer's offices, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)