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Third lawsuit filed against Ohio State regarding sexual abuse by former doctor

A third lawsuit filed against Ohio State in an Ohio federal district court Thursday night regarding Dr. Richard Strauss claims the university knew about the sexual abuse by the former team doctor and ignored the complaints.

Ten more former students have come forward alleging the sexual misconduct by Strauss decades ago, the lawsuit states. Strauss worked at Ohio State from 1978 until he retired in 1998.

Richard Strauss in his Ohio State College of Medicine photograph. Ohio State has interviewed more than 100 former Ohio State athletes with sexual abuse claims against former team physician Richard Strauss. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

“Beginning his very first year of employment at OSU — and spanning his entire two-decade tenure — Dr. Strauss preyed on male students, fondling, groping, sexually assaulting, and harassing them. He did so with OSU’s knowledge and support,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit describes the “John Does” as members of the tennis, soccer, basketball and track and field teams during the 1980s. Lawyers from Scott Elliott Smith, LPA, Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC and Public Justice P.C. were named as the representatives of the alleged victims.

“We are aware of reports that individuals at the university did not respond appropriately during that era,” university spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement. “These allegations are troubling and are a critical focus of the current investigation.”

The lawsuit alleges the 10 plaintiffs reported the sexual abuse from the now-deceased doctor to numerous Ohio State officials, claiming they did not attempt to stop it. It also accuses accuses the university of violating federal Title IX law, which bars sex discrimination in education, when they chose to not take action against the complaints.

The lawsuit also references other controversies at the university, including the ongoing investigation into former Ohio State Diving Club assistant coach William Bohonyi and the firing of former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters.

Bohonyi was terminated in 2014 after an internal investigation found he was involved in a relationship with a 17-year-old diver he coached. Waters was fired from Ohio State after an investigation found an “environment conducive to sexual harassment” within the marching band.

Citing the two previous cases, the lawsuit claims Ohio State has a culture of “institutional indifference to the rights and safety of its students” and that “sexual predators and harassers” have been allowed to thrive at the university over the past four decades.

“There is no connection between the allegations in the lawsuits regarding Dr. Strauss, the Marching Band, and the Dive Club, except that in all three cases the university of today immediately and unambiguously took action to get to the truth and live up to one of our core values as a university – that we do not tolerate sexual misconduct,” a statement from Ohio State read.

As with the two previous class-action lawsuit filed against Ohio State, this alleges the university knew about the sexual abuses of Strauss and allowed it to continue on. None of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuits between the three are the same.

The Lantern does not publicize the names of alleged victims of sexual abuse unless given permission by the victims.

4 comments

  1. Hasid Ngone Blackman

    This article is not “in-depth” for the reason that no information is given to identify the federal judge assigned to the case, his history of deciding these type of cases, nor the case schedule so the public will be drawn into the story. Do better next time. Hasid.

  2. At this rate, Ohio State may exceed the $500 million settlement at Michigan State for their doctor sex abuse scandal.

    • The difference, of course, is that the MS doctor actually sexually assaulted people. Being a weirdo is not sexual assault, and yet…

  3. How weird. The “doctor” is dead. NOW there are all kinds of “Investigations”, and the guy can’t even defend himself. Inappropriate comments? Groping (this could mean anything, actually). Fondling? Sexually assaulting? And not one (this article is claiming hundreds???) came forward until now? I’m sorry, while I cannot defend a dead doctor, neither can I believe this politically motivated, ambulance chasing, deep pocket lawsuit. Don’t you just love attorneys???

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