Richard Strauss in his Ohio State College of Medicine photograph. Strauss is responsible for nearly 1,500 instances of sexual assault. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

Former university physician Richard Strauss was responsible for nearly 1,500 instances of sexual assault, according to Ohio State’s latest count announced Tuesday. 

The university’s 2019 annual crime report, which counts incidents in 2018, includes 30 instances of Strauss-related rape and 992 instances of Strauss-related fondling. Not included in the report are an additional 437 instances of fondling and 17 instances of rape related to Strauss identified in 2019 that will be included in next year’s report, according to an Ohio State crime report release.  

The new numbers, released with the university’s annual crime report, which is mandated by the Clery Act, count the number of instances rather than victims, according to the release.  The university also released the names of the members of the Task Force on Sexual Abuse, the formation of which was announced in May.  

An independent investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, LLP, released in May found that Ohio State failed to stop Strauss from abusing at least 177 students during his 1978-1998 tenure. Over his 20-year career, Strauss served as the team doctor for 17 men’s varsity sports and a physician at the Student Health Center.

Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

“We really just need to offer our profound regret and apologies to every person who endured Strauss’ abuse, but we went through this investigation last year, released it this year, and it wouldn’t have been completed without the strength and the courage of the survivors coming forward, so we want to thank them,” University President Michael V. Drake said. 

The annual report contains statistics on various crimes on campus and includes Strauss-related numbers because it counts crimes in the year they are reported, rather than the year they occurred, according to the release. All reports of incidents were included. 

“In some instances, former student-athletes indicated that, along with themselves, their teammates had been abused by Strauss decades ago. If no further details were available, a determination was made based on the characterization of the reporting party,” the release stated.

The majority of Strauss-related data was provided by Perkins Coie, according to the release. 

The university also released previously redacted portions of the independent investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, relating to the State Medical Board of Ohio’s file on Strauss Tuesday. The Ohio State Department of Athletics discovered a file containing Strauss references while moving from St. John Arena to the Covelli Center, but the documents were “either entirely duplicative of previously located university records or otherwise did not alter the findings of the investigation,” a release stated. 

“We are continually focused on doing everything we can to support the integrity and the transparency and the trust of the campus community,” Drake said.

In concurrence with the newly released numbers of crimes on campus, Ohio State has announced the agenda and members of its sexual abuse task force that was announced at the full Board of Trustees meeting May 31.

The task force is expected to summarize sexual abuse instances within the last 10 years at institutions of higher education and determine themes appearing throughout the instances, identify educational tools for developing awareness, identify the best practices for promoting action and assisting in reporting on college campuses, and identify the most sustainable forms of support and recovery, according to an Ohio State press release about the task force.

The Task Force on Sexual Abuse is chaired by Alan Michaels, lawyer, professor and dean emeritus of Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, according to the release. Other members of the 10-person staff include Kimberly Spears-McNatt, chief of University Police, and Regis Becker, interim CEO of U.S. Center for SafeSport, a nonprofit aimed at developing a sport community free of abuse, according to its website.  

The remaining members are from Ohio State, Oregon Health and Science University, Ohio University and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. In addition, the task force is partnering with survivors of sexual abuse through organizations such as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, according to the release. 

Drake, who earned a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, said in a September interview with The Lantern that in his capacity as a medical professional, the incident with Strauss was “doubly horrific,” and that he hopes the task force will work to help make places like Ohio State safer by addressing such issues.