COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The number of former students claiming they were sexually assaulted by Ohio State University physician Richard Strauss is up to about 350.
Since the beginning of Colleen Marshall’s investigative series on the culture of cover-up at OSU, the most common question is how did it go on for two decades with nobody stopping him?
The survivors themselves may have part of the answer. Either nobody believed them, or the victim thought he was the only one and kept quiet. Dan Ritchie is one of the men who kept his secret for 25 years. Now, he is one of the first to emerge from behind a wall of silence.
“To come to Ohio State as a scholarship athlete was amazing. And to think that I had the ability to compete at that level, I was excited,” said Ritchie. He was on a full-ride wrestling scholarship to a university that was bigger than his hometown in Illinois.
Excitement gave way to shock when he was molested by the team doctor on his very first day on campus.
“That moment for a lot of us was a grooming period for him, to be able to kind of scope out the next guy, or the next kid,” said Ritchie.
He says Strauss did not hide his interest in ‘the guys.’ He showered with them, often pleasuring himself, in front of wrestlers and members of the men’s gymnastics team.
“Usually, their practice would end before ours and they would be coming out of the showers when we were coming down and we would see Dr. Strauss coming out of the showers. And he would see us coming down the stairs. He’d do a u-turn and go right back into the showers and stay in there from the first guy to the last guy,” said Ritchie.
“Didn’t anybody, adult, who was responsible for you young men see that?” asked Colleen Marshall.
“They had to have,” Ritchie responded.
With each exam, each encounter Ritchie had with Strauss, the doctor was more aggressive, until during his third year on the team when he separated his shoulder.
“And that examination progressed to a point where it had never been before. And you know, as a young man, my first response was to run,” said Ritchie.
He walked away from his scholarship and quit the team.
“That feeling of embarrassment or shame has been with me my entire life since then,” said Ritchie.
When news of the Strauss investigation broke nearly two years ago, Ritchie knew he was not alone. For the first time, he shared his story with his wife, then tried to tell his parents.
“And unfortunately, we got into an argument because at the time, Jim Jordan was in line for Speaker of the House. And we are conservatives, we are Republicans and my father is very political. And his concern was how is this going to affect Jim Jordan,” said Ritchie.
Jordan, now a Congressman, was then an assistant wrestling coach. Walking away from his wrestling scholarship had already damaged Ritchie’s relationship with his father.
“He wasn’t listening. And it got to the point where, ‘It has nothing to do about Jim Jordan. I don’t care about Jim Jordan. I am trying to tell you something,'” said Ritchie. “And his argument was, well maybe Jim didn’t know. And I’m like of course Jim knew. Everybody knew.”
“It must have been a knife to your heart that your dad was more concerned about Jim Jordan than you,” said Colleen Marshall.
“It’s still something my wife and I talk about,” said Ritchie. “I can’t stress enough the support my wife has given me throughout this whole thing. I mean, she has been my rock through all of this.
Congressman Jordan’s office would not respond to questions for this story, referring to their earlier statement that Jordan knew nothing about Strauss abusing students.
Ritchie and his wife have three sons, who will one day be college students.
“If your some come to you with a story like this, will you believe them?” asked Colleen Marshall.
“Oh, absolutely yes. I mean, who would make it up?” responded Ritchie.
Ritchie says he would like to see Ohio state be held accountable.
“From what I understand, I think they would just like this to go away. And I don’t think it’s going to go away. I know the people involved in this won’t let it go away,” said Ritchie.
Strauss killed himself in 2005, years after he was allowed to retire from the university in 1998.