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

Victims of former university physician Richard Strauss sent a letter to the Ohio inspector general Randall J. Meyer calling for a state investigation into ties among current vice chair of the Ohio State Board of Trustees Abigail Wexner, late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Ohio State. 

The letter, written by five former student-athletes and Strauss victims, asked the inspector general to investigate “allegations of Maria Farmer against Abigail Wexner for her complicity in helping Jeffrey Epstein assault a young woman in Ohio and cover-up that crime,” as well as Epstein’s relationship with the university. The victims wrote that they are primarily concerned because of Abigail Wexner’s position on the Board. 

This letter comes two months after victims sent a separate letter to the Ohio attorney general’s office calling on state and federal officials to investigate Les and Abigail Wexner’s ties to Epstein

The letter states that it comes in light of “a response of bureaucratic nihilism” from Ohio Attorney General David Yost’s office, in which Yost said he could not get involved unless the local county prosecutor asked for help. According to the inspector general’s website and the letter, the office can begin its own investigations into governor appointees — such as members of the Ohio State Board of Trustees .

“If not you, who else can we turn to?” the letter reads.

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said Ohio State declined to comment because the letter was not addressed to it. The inspector general did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. 

In an affidavit included in a defamation suit filed April 16 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Farmer, an artist and graduate student at the time, said she was assaulted by Epstein in the Wexner mansion.

The document states that Farmer was forced to remain on the property against her will by the Wexners’ security team for 12 hours until her father came to pick her up. 

Although Epstein and Les Wexner — L-brands owner and namesake of the university’s hospital — had no known ties to Strauss, the victims asked for the attorney general’s investigation because “justice denied to one victim of sexual abuse is justice denied to all victims.” Strauss abused at least 177 students during his time at Ohio State, according to an investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, LLP.

A Wexner family spokesperson said in a statement that the Wexners had no knowledge of Farmer before news reports in 2019, and had “never met her, never spoke with her, and never spoke with Mr. Epstein or anyone else about her.”

The letter also cites news reports of Les Wexner’s alleged creation of a “culture of misogyny” at one of his companies, Victoria’s Secret, and his reported enabling of Epstein’s access to Victoria’s Secret models. 

The victims also wrote that Ohio State has not yet completed its review of the possible donations Epstein may have made to the university. In September, University President Michael V. Drake told The Lantern that the external review of Epstein’s donations would be completed in the next several weeks. 

According to a university statement in July, Epstein’s supposed private foundation — CUOQ Foundation — anonymously donated $2.5 million to support the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in 2007. Epstein’s donation and a $2.5-million dollar gift from the Leslie H. Wexner Charitable Fund were applied to the naming of the Les Wexner Football Complex in fulfillment of a $5-million pledge, according to the statement. 

Epstein also donated $1,000 to the Wexner Center for the Arts Membership Fund in 1990, according to the statement.

In the letter, the victims said Ohio State looked “the other way” in regard to the connection between Epstein and Abigail Wexner.

“Ohio State has shown that, without maximum public pressure, it will turn a blind eye to sexual predators,” the letter reads.