COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There is one person involved in the two decades of sexual abuse of students at the Ohio State University by Dr. Richard Strauss who is guaranteed to never pay a price for what happened to hundreds of young men. That’s Dr. Richard Strauss himself.
Strauss killed himself in 2005, years after he was allowed to retire with dignity, getting a full pension and the lofty title of professor emeritus.
What he did to at least 300 young men is just now percolating to the surface, revealing devastating scars for his victims and an unsuspecting university administration forced into damage control for a crisis it unknowingly inherited.
We now have new information on what might happen next and who could be forced to share the blame.
Neither the members of the Board of Trustees nor university President Dr. Michael Drake were in power when hundreds of students were abused by Dr. Richard Strauss. They are not responsible for what went wrong, but they are the only ones who can make it right.
“I want to reiterate that we are dedicated to a fair outcome. To be clear this means that Ohio State is committed to a monetary resolution,” said Board of Trustees Chair Gary Heminger during a November meeting.
Mediation is underway for a financial settlement. The university is offering free counseling. Although the statute of limitations means the university is not legally obligated to do anything, this is an image crisis.
Former wrestler Dan Ritchey is just one of the victims who are talking.
This university knew it. Knew prior to my enrollment and it knew after,” said Ritchey. “People have asked why we didn’t say anything back then, when these abuses were going on. The fact is we did. We actively complained about the abuses and the actions of Dr. Strauss and the deviant behavior within Larkins Hall.”
The Perkins report says at least 22 coaches were aware of what Strauss was doing. At least four former wrestlers and one referee are on record saying they complained to then-assistant wrestling coach and now Congressman Jim Jordan. The high-profile representative insists he knew nothing.
“We’re happy to talk with the folks who are doing the investigation, but nothing, I mean things they said about me are just flat out not true,” said Jordan in an interview 18 months ago.
Jordan would not be interviewed for this story, but his office says he had never heard of any kind of abuse, or he would have dealt with it. His office says multiple investigations confirmed that, but could not produce any of those investigations for us.
“So when you hear Jim Jordan and other university officials say, ‘I didn’t know that was going on,’ do you believe them?” Colleen Marshall asked Stephen Snyder-Hill, who is identified in the Perkins report as Student B, the Strauss assault victim who relentlessly complained in 1995, leading to Strauss’ suspension.
“So, I think an appropriate response from anybody in this situation should be to take a little bit of ownership and say you know I was there, and by god if I could have done something I mean my heart goes out to these people,” said Snyder-Hill.
In a show of arrogance after his suspension, Strauss complained about his boss, Medical Director Ted Grace to the medical board. We found a July 1996 response from Medical Board investigator Marcia Barnett, who revealed she learned Strauss was under investigation by the university for ‘inappropriate examinations’ of male students’ and that the university was considering making a formal complaint to the medical board. She said the university asked her to ‘maintain confidentiality’ about the investigation of Strauss.
We now know the university never filed that formal complaint. Instead, they allowed Strauss to retire with a pension and emeritus status.
His hundreds of victims were silent for decades until a single complaint opened the floodgates. The now-adult men are demanding justice.
“I am here to speak for those who still suffer in silence. I am here to stand with the men who have put themselves out there in the public eye since the beginning and led the way supporting those of us who were reluctant to step out from the safety of anonymity,” said Ritchey.
“We’re David, they’re Goliath. We know that we’re small and they’re big and they can’t fail and we heard all that stuff. I don’t care. I got a sling shot,” said Snyder-Hill.