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Richard Strauss investigation to take center stage at Board of Trustees

A cloud of uncertainty regarding Ohio State’s investigation into Dr. Richard Strauss has lingered over the university since it began back on April 4.

Richard Strauss in his Ohio State College of Medicine photograph. Ohio State has filed to have three lawsuits dismissed regarding its handling of the accusations against Strauss. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

On Thursday and Friday, the last regularly scheduled Board of Trustees’ meetings of 2018 could provide more clarity into that investigation.

At the Audit and Compliance meeting on Thursday, Ohio State is scheduled to provide an update pertaining to the investigation, while on Friday at the full Board meeting, several Strauss accusers will share their stories before the Board goes into executive session.

It is unclear what the Board will reveal at the Audit and Compliance meeting, though at the August meeting, a letter from Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur — Ohio State’s legal counsel appointed by Attorney General Mike DeWine — was read that said there were 145 accusers interviewed and said the investigation would conclude at the end of the fall semester.

Brian Garrett, a former nursing student at Ohio State, said in his request that he and several other alumni wanted no more than 20 minutes to speak, and that they would like to share stories and discuss several topics with the Board. Garrett wants the group to provide a list of “resources for abuse victims that are diverse, available and effective.”

In addition, Garrett said the group would like to suggest “policies and rules changes that will prevent the kind of prolonged and widespread abuse we suffered.” There were also several changes in civil laws he wants the university to consider supporting, and “potential personnel or organizational changes the University might implement to safeguard students and create a campus culture of awareness, intolerance of sexual abuse, and empowerment of victims.”

Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said the stories shared about Strauss are “deeply concerning,” and the university is “grateful for these individuals’ willingness to speak publicly.”

“It is important and very much appreciated,” Johnson said. “Since the start of the independent investigation in April, our goals have been to thoroughly and carefully pursue the truth about what happened during Strauss’ time at Ohio State and what university leaders at the time knew. We do not tolerate sexual misconduct and pledge to appropriately address the findings of the investigation.”

The investigation of Strauss, conducted by Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie and overseen by Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur, involves reviewing records and interviewing accusers and former students who might have information pertaining to allegations against Strauss.

The former Ohio State doctor, who died by suicide in 2005, has been accused of abusing male varsity athletes and students as a team physician and Student Medical Services doctor when he was employed at the university between 1978 and 1998. The Board announced at a previous meeting that the investigation found he ran a private clinic between 1996 and 1998, and is also looking into whether he abused high school students.

Since the investigation opened in April, three lawsuits have been filed against Ohio State, claiming the university knew of the allegations at the time and did nothing to stop Strauss. Ohio State has filed motions to have the three lawsuits dismissed on statute-of-limitations grounds, including a second motion to dismiss on a revised complaint by one of the accusers.

Michael Carpenter, an attorney for Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP, said in a press release that the motions to dismiss the lawsuits were not “ignoring or being dismissive of plaintiffs’ factual allegations,” but only to respond to the legal claims.

Despite voicing his opposition to the motions to dismiss at a rally on Nov. 8, Garrett said the group does not want to discuss any pending litigation.

The agenda said the start of the full Board meeting is at 10 a.m. on Friday, but there is no exact time listed for when the address will take place. The investigation update at the Audit and Compliance meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and end at 10:10 a.m. on Thursday.

One comment

  1. A Very Concerned Alumnus and Ohio State Supporter

    ……Perhaps this group can be joined by the faculty in the College of Dentistry to discuss the abuse and harassment occurring in that College before it also becomes national front page newsletter headlines.

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