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Ohio State faces second class-action lawsuit pertaining to doctor’s alleged sexual abuse

Ohio State now faces its second class-action lawsuit in a matter of days regarding the sexual abuse of a former Ohio State doctor after a former Ohio State athlete who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Dr. Richard Strauss filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the university. He is being represented by Sauder Schelkopf LLC and Karon LLC.

Richard Strauss, a former wrestling team physician and an assistant professor of medicine, is being investigated by Ohio State on allegations of sexual misconduct. Credit: Lantern file photo

The complaint comes from a former wrestler at Ohio State from 1982 to 1984 who said he was sexually abused by Strauss while seeking medical treatment before dropping out of the university. He is listed only as John Doe in the case filing.

Joseph Sauder, one of the lawyers from Sauder Schelkopf LLC representing the client in the suit, told The Lantern this is separate from the one filed by four former wrestlers on Monday. He said at this time his group has not contacted the other group.

Ohio State also faces a third class-action lawsuit over allegations a former diving coach for the Ohio State Diving Club sexually abused a 16-year-old athlete.

Though the lawsuit is listed as a class-action, Sauder Schelkopf is currently representing just one client in the case.

“We are filing on behalf of one individual at this time, but have been in contact with others who we will likely add at a later time,” Sauder told The Lantern. He did not confirm how many additional people might be involved.

The lawsuit said the nationwide class encompasses “all individuals who were examined by Richard H. Strauss, M.D. at The Ohio State University.”

University spokesman Ben Johnson said Ohio State is aware of the allegations made that Ohio State ignored claims of sexual abuse in a statement made to The Lantern Tuesday.

“We are also aware of the lawsuits filed today by former wrestlers and we are reviewing them as we do all litigation,” Johnson said. “The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has appointed Michael Carpenter of Carpenter Lipps & Leland to represent the university in this lawsuit.”

The claims for relief listed in the lawsuit are a violation of Title IX, invasion of privacy, sexual harassment, negligence, gross negligence and/or wanton and reckless misconduct, negligent supervision, negligent hiring/retention and negligent failure to warn, train or educate.

The alleged abuses suffered by the victim listed in the lawsuit were but were not limited to: “sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during examinations, including regularly touching Plaintiff’s genitals and breast area, often at the same time, regularly measuring Plaintiff’s scrotum, and taking photographs of Plaintiff.”

The lawsuit claims he received care from Strauss on at least 20 occasions. It said the plaintiff was young and believed Strauss’ treatment to be “medically necessary.”

According to the lawsuit, the victim is seeking appropriate relief on behalf of other individuals who experienced similar mistreatment by Strauss and Ohio State.

As with the class-action suit from the four former wrestlers, this lawsuit said the plaintiff believed Ohio State coaches were aware of Strauss’ conduct yet chose to ignore it. It said the university received reports from students as early as the late 1970s, but that, despite repeated accusations from students, Ohio State kept the reports secret “to avoid negative publicity.”

“This is not what you expect to happen when our children go off to college. Our client is courageously adding his voice on behalf of the many individuals who have been victimized while students at OSU. We look forward seeking compensation for our client and all individuals who were sexually assaulted by Dr. Strauss. We also will be seeking to implement changes at OSU so this never happens again,” Sauder said.

Sauder Schelkopf LLC also represents current and former students from the University of Southern California who were sexually assaulted by Dr. George Tyndall, USC’s gynecologist.

Johnson urged anyone with information about sexual abuse from Strauss while he was at Ohio State to contact investigators at osu@perkinscoie.com.

Updated at 6:53 with the statement from Ben Johnson.

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