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Ohio State requests state medical board information to be publicly released in Strauss report

Ohio State has asked that information relating to the Richard Strauss investigation that might otherwise be confidential be released publicly as part of the investigative report that will be released regarding sexual abuse allegations against the former university doctor.

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

A court filing on Wednesday to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in the Brian Garrett et. al. v. Ohio State University case shows the university asking that certain information in State Medical Board of Ohio files be released publicly. The filing does say that names of former patients and non-Ohio State complainants and witness or other potentially identifying information would remain redacted in the final report.

The motion is an effort for the university to be able to publicly release the investigative report from Perkins Coie once it is completed.

Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement from the university that Ohio State wants to continue to keep the public informed about the findings of the investigation as it has continued to provide regular updates and share information about the investigation when possible.

“As the investigation reaches its concluding phase, this court action taken today is an effort to ensure that we are able to share the entire investigation report with the public once it is received from the investigators,” Johnson said in the statement.

In April 2018, an investigation was opened up investigating claims of sexual abuse made by former Ohio State student-athletes from Strauss during his tenure from 1978 to 1998. The investigation later revealed that students seeking treatment at student health services might have been abused, as well as others who went to Strauss’ off-campus clinic from 1996 to 1998.

Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

The memorandum in support of the defendant’s motion also sheds more light on knowledge about Strauss’ alleged sexual abuse during the time, stating that the state medical board did conduct investigations into Strauss in 1996.

A former Ohio State athlete told The Lantern in April 2018 shortly after the investigation first opened that he was asked by his coach to testify in a 1997 hearing but did not because he was embarrassed, noting however that other former athletes did testify.

The university learned that Perkins Coie, the Seattle-based lawfirm conducting the Strauss investigation, will rely on information made by former Ohio State employees speaking in the state medical board’s 1996 investigation.

The filings show that the state medical board is prohibited from making public any information that might identify patients without proper consent, but that they are permitted to share information with other government agencies involving investigations of alleged violations of rules.

The state medical board maintained a position that information shared in the 1996 investigation are to remain confidential and state law prohibits that information from being publicly disclosed, the court filing said.

In a letter submitted to the chief legal counsel of the state medical board from Kathleen Trafford of Porter Wright, the lawfirm overseeing the investigation, the information divulged in the 1996 investigation is “invaluable” to reaching a conclusion to the knowledge of university officials at the time.

Information from the investigation “is not available from any other source and without it the current investigation will not be complete,” Trafford said in the letter, noting that sources might not have interviewed or forgotten given the significant passage of time.

Tessie Pollock, spokeswoman for the state medical board, said she is not able to discuss pending litigation at this time.

One comment

  1. It sounds like selective transparency and grasping at straws looking for some shred of evidence that OSU handled it properly.

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