COLUMBUS (AP) – About three dozen former students have joined a federal lawsuit alleging Ohio State University officials knew about and didn’t stop a doctor accused of performing unnecessary genital exams on athletes and other young men decades ago.
The men alleging sexual misconduct by Richard Strauss in an amended complaint include ex-athletes and a student who worked for his off-campus medical office.
Ohio State has sought to have the case dismissed as time-barred by law but says it’s not ignoring their allegations and is committed to finding the truth.
Strauss killed himself in 2005. His relatives have said they were shocked by the allegations raised this year.
A law firm conducting an outside investigation has heard from at least 145 ex-students sharing firsthand accounts of misconduct by Strauss between 1979 and 1997.
Nancy Thompson, a former member of Team USA Swimming and a sexual assault victim herself, is now working with the legal team filing the class action lawsuit against Ohio State. “We do have more victims coming forward and saying, ‘Hey, you know this happened to me too’ and through their stories we have better information about who at OSU knew what and when they knew it,” Thompson said.
The amended complaint names former coaches and other OSU officials who, it says, were made aware of Strauss’s behavior: “Complaints continued to pour in over the years, including to track and field coach Frank Zubovich, tennis coach John Daly, then-assistant athletic trainer Bill Davis, Director of OSU Student Health Services Ted Grace and Athletic Director Andy Geiger. The years passed, the complaints of disturbing and graphic sexual assault by Dr. Strauss multiplied, and no one took any corrective action. Nor did OSU.”
Thompson says it’s not fair to question why so many victims are only now coming forward. “Because it’s this culture that was allowed and accepted by OSU that made these guys repress these memories and not actually deal with the feelings and the thoughts and the emotions until recently,” Thompson said.
A spokesman for Ohio State said in an emailed statement the university is reviewing the new legal filing and will respond appropriately:
We are deeply concerned for anyone who was affected by Richard Strauss’ actions several decades ago and remain steadfastly committed to uncovering the truth. When the university of today received reports of sexual misconduct, we immediately and unambiguously took action to get to the truth and live up to one of our core values – that we do not tolerate sexual misconduct.
In general, while the university has responded to the legal claims filed against it, as it must, Ohio State’s motions to dismiss are not directed towards plaintiffs’ claims of injury. As stated in the motions to dismiss, “Ohio State is not ignoring or being dismissive of plaintiffs’ factual allegations.”
While we cannot discuss details of the ongoing independent investigation, we are grateful to those who have come forward and continue to encourage anyone with information about Strauss’ conduct to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The identity of those who contact Perkins Coie will be treated with the utmost confidence and sensitivity permitted by law, and individuals may report anonymously if they wish.