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Report: Ohio State team doctor abused 177, leaders knew (UPDATED)

  • Ohio-State-Team-Doctor-3

    Dr. Richard Strauss, in his 1978 employment application.

    OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY VIA AP, FILE

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COLUMBUS — A now-dead Ohio State team doctor sexually abused at least 177 male students over nearly two decades, and university officials knew what he was doing and did little to stop him, according to an investigative report released by the school Friday.

The Latest: Report doesn't say if abuse reported to police

The Latest on an investigation into a former Ohio State team doctor (all times local):

3:15 p.m.
Ohio State University's president says it's not clear whether anyone ever went to authorities to report a former doctor now accused of sexually abusing more than 150 male students.

Findings from a yearlong investigation released Friday say numerous university personnel knew about complaints of abuse that continued nearly 20 years into the late 1990s.

School President Michael Drake says the report doesn't address whether anyone went to law enforcement or if they were required to at the time.

But he says the report shows the university fell short of its responsibility to its students. He calls that regrettable and inexcusable. 

Investigators found that at least 177 male students say they were sexually abused by the late Dr. Richard Strauss.

Drake says the university has spent $6 million on the investigation.

2:55 p.m.
Ohio State University's president says it's clear there was "consistent institutional failure" after seeing a report that detailed nearly two decades of sexual abuse by a former athletic team doctor.

President Michael Drake says the report released Friday that revealed sexual abuse allegations from at least 177 male students is shocking and horrifying.

The report also found that numerous university personnel at the time knew about complaints of abuse that began in the late 1970s and continued for nearly 20 years.

Drake wasn't at Ohio State when the late Dr. Richard Strauss worked there. He says multiple people over multiple years failed to meet their minimum responsibilities.

Many students told investigators that they thought the doctor's behavior was an "open secret" within the athletic department.

2 p.m.
A former Ohio State University president says he has no memory of a former athletic team doctor or any complaints about him sexually abusing male students.

A report released Friday says the now-dead doctor accused of sexually abusing more than 150 male students pleaded with university administrators in the late 1990s to keep his job near the end.

The report says Dr. Richard Strauss sent letters to administrators, including then-university President Gordon Gee as abuse allegations mounted.

Gee is now the president at West Virginia University. He says he told investigators at Ohio State that he had no recollection of Strauss. Gee says he has always taken allegations brought to his attention seriously.

A yearlong investigation says Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students and that university personnel at the time knew about complaints.

1:45 p.m.
A spokesman for an Ohio congressman who once coached wrestling at Ohio State University says an investigation shows he didn't know about abuse allegations against a former team doctor.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's name isn't mentioned in a report released Friday that details decades of abuse by the former doctor who died in 2005.

Jordan was an assistant coach from 1987 to 1995. Some former wrestlers have said Jordan knew about allegations that they were inappropriately groped.

Investigators say they didn't find any documentary evidence that coaches at Ohio State were aware of the sexual misconduct complaints. But the report also says it couldn't make conclusive determinations about each allegation about the former coaches.

It also says 22 coaches told investigators they had heard rumors or complaints about the doctor.

12:40 p.m.
Investigators say a former Ohio State University doctor sexually abused male student athletes in at least nine facilities across campus.

A report released Friday confirmed previous allegations that more than half the abuse reports against the late Richard Strauss happened in Larkins Hall, a university athletic facility that has since been demolished.

The report also confirms earlier accusations of a "sexualized environment" at Larkins involving male voyeurs loitering in the men's locker room, showers and saunas.

But investigators also say they received reports of abuse by Strauss at other facilities including Woody Hayes Athletic Center, St. John Arena, the OSU Ice Rink, Ohio Stadium, and Jesse Owens Recreation Center.

A yearlong investigation says that Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students and that university personnel at the time knew about complaints.

12:15 p.m.
Former Ohio State University students who say they were sexually abused by a campus doctor say it's time for administrators to take responsibility.

Results from a yearlong investigation released Friday say that the doctor sexually abused at least 177 male students and that numerous university personnel at the time knew about complaints.

The late Richard Strauss worked with athletic teams and at a student health center for over two decades before he was fired amid mounting allegations. Many accusers are now suing the university.

Former student Brian Garrett says the report shows Ohio State has admitted to a monumental and fundamental failure to protect its students. He says any settlements should be paid by the university directly.

Ex-student Kent Kilgore says the harm caused by the doctor still carries over today.

11:50 a.m.
A report says a former Ohio State University team doctor accused of sexually abusing more than 150 male students pleaded with university administrators to keep his job near the end of his tenure.

The report released Friday says Dr. Richard Strauss sent letters in 1997 to administrators, including then-university president Gordon Gee  as abuse allegations mounted.

He was fired as a doctor for athletic teams and at a student health center. But he was allowed to retire from a faculty position at the university and received emeritus status based on his longstanding service and commitment.

A message seeking comment on the report was left for Gee, who is now president of West Virginia University.

A yearlong investigation says Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students and that university personnel at the time knew about complaints.

11:10 a.m.
A former high school wrestler told investigators that an Ohio State University team doctor sexually abused him when the student was 14.

The unnamed student went on to attend Ohio State. An investigative report released Friday says the abuse occurred while the late Dr. Richard Strauss was conducting a body-fat testing study at a Columbus-area high school in 1982 or 1983.

The student asserted that Strauss molested other minors during the course of the doctor work with high schools and the Ohio State wrestling camp. But investigators do not have any other firsthand accounts of the behavior in relation to those activities.

The report from a law firm that investigated the accusations against found that that the doctor sexually abused at least 177 men. The report also concluded that school leaders were knew at the time.

10:40 a.m.
Findings from an investigation into sexual abuse allegations involving a late Ohio State University team doctor say many students thought his behavior was an "open secret" within the athletic department.

The findings released Friday say at least 177 male students were sexually abused during nearly two decades by the team doctor who died in 2005.

The report by from a law firm that investigated claims about Richard Strauss says many athletes believed their coaches and trainers knew about his behavior.

Investigators say more than 50 athletic department employees who were at the university during Strauss' tenure confirmed the students' accounts.

Lawyers representing some of the former students who are suing Ohio State say they hope the report will force the university to take responsibility for its failure to protect them.

9:50 a.m.
Investigators say at least 177 male students were sexually abused by an Ohio State University team doctor who died in 2005.

The university released findings Friday from a law firm that investigated claims about Richard Strauss for the school.

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.

The claims span from 1979 to 1997 and involve athletes from at least 16 sports, plus Strauss' work at the student health center and his off-campus clinic.

Strauss killed himself in 2005. No one has publicly defended him. His family has said they were shocked at the allegations.

Two lawsuits filed against Ohio State by dozens of plaintiffs allege school officials were aware of concerns about Strauss but didn't stop him.

The university says the lawsuits are in mediation.

Dr. Richard Strauss committed the abuse from 1979 to 1997 — nearly his entire time at Ohio State — in episodes involving athletes from at least 16 sports, plus his work at the student health center and his off-campus clinic, the report said.

The report on Strauss, who took his life in 2005, could cost the university heavily by bolstering the lawsuits brought against it by a multitude of victims.

The findings put Strauss in a league with gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of Michigan State University, who was accused of molesting at least 250 women and girls and is serving what amounts to a life sentence. Michigan State ultimately agreed to a $500 million settlement with his victims.

In issuing the report, Ohio State President Michael Drake offered "profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss' abuse." He called it a "fundamental failure" of the institution and thanked victims for their courage.

Many of Strauss' accusers who have spoken publicly said they were groped or otherwise inappropriately touched during physical exams, or ogled in locker rooms. Many told investigators that they thought his behavior was an "open secret" and that they believed their coaches, trainers and other team doctors knew about it.

The students described the examinations as being "hazed" or going through a "rite of passage." Athletes joked about Strauss' behavior, referring to him with nicknames like "Dr. Jelly Paws."

On Friday, some of his victims called on the university to take responsibility for its inaction and the harm inflicted by Strauss.

"Dreams were broken, relationships with loved ones were damaged, and the harm now carries over to our children as many of us have become so overprotective that it strains the relationship with our kids," Kent Kilgore said in a statement.

Steve Estey, an attorney for some of the former students who are suing, said Ohio State should take care of the victims, as it promised six months ago.

"We hope that the report will force OSU to take responsibility for its failure to protect young students," he said. "If OSU refuses to take responsibility, we will continue with civil litigation and put this in front of a jury for 12 people to judge their actions."

The law firm hired to conduct the investigation for the school interviewed hundreds of former students and university employees. The report concludes that university personnel at the time knew of complaints and concerns about Strauss' conduct as early as 1979 but failed for years to investigate or take meaningful action.

As the allegations against him mounted, investigators said, Strauss pleaded with university administrators to keep his job. That included sending a letter in 1997 to then-university president Gordon Gee. A message seeking comment was left Friday for Gee, now president of West Virginia University.

Strauss, a well-regarded physician and sports-medicine researcher, was eventually let go as a team doctor and physician at the student health center. But he was allowed to retire from a faculty position at the university and received emeritus status, a mark of distinguished service. The university said it will revoke the honor.

No one has publicly defended him, though family members have said they were shocked by the allegations.

At least one of the students, a 14-year-old high school wrestler at the time of Strauss' abuse, told investigators Strauss molested other minors during the course of the doctor's work with high schools and an Ohio State wrestling camp. No other such accounts were included in unredacted portions of the report.

Previous to Friday's release, his accusers had alleged more than 20 school officials and staff members, including two athletic directors and a coach who is now a congressman , were aware of concerns about Strauss but didn't stop him.

Neither that congressman, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, nor any other coaches are mentioned by name in the report.

Most of those claims are part of the lawsuits against Ohio State that are headed to mediation . They seek unspecified damages.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights also is examining whether Ohio State responded "promptly and equitably" to students' complaints.

Ohio State alumni have said they complained about Strauss as early as the late 1970s, and the university had at least one documented complaint from 1995.

Ohio State Medical Board records indicate the university reported Strauss to the board at some point but include no details. The board said it never disciplined him.


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