COLUMBUS (WCMH) — One victim of former Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss believes he will never get a full picture of what Strauss did to hundreds of young men, just as Ohio lawmakers get ready to revive a bill that would allow those victims to sue OSU.
Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder called on the Civil Justice Committee Monday to resume hearings on a bill that would clear the way for victims of Strauss to sue the university.
There have been no hearings on the stalled bill since last September.
Householder said in a statement that Ohio State has yet to accept responsibility for the obvious harm that was done to students under their watch.
Hundreds of former students filed claims against OSU that the university said are barred by the statute of limitations.
One of the victims of Strauss said he also believes it’s past time for the university to make things right.
“There is nothing more I want to do than not do this,” said Steve Lee, a former OSU student who claims to be a victim of Strauss’ sexual abuse. “I hate doing this, I really do.”
“But you are doing it. Why?” asked a reporter.
“Because the story needs to be told,” Lee replied.
And more than 300 men are telling that story, now suing OSU. Like most of them, Lee thought he was the only victim after going to the student health clinic with symptoms of the flu.
“He said he wanted to get an overall picture of my whole body to see what my status, my physical condition was,” Lee said.
Lee was 19 when he was sent into an exam room with Strauss. Within minutes, Lee said he was groped and molested, the doctor aggressively fondled his genitals.
Lee was confused.
“I stopped him at that point,” he said. “I’m not here for any of this. I am just here because I don’t feel good.”
Lee said Strauss wanted to take pictures of his genitals and insisted he had to resume the genital exam. The doctor never did blood work, didn’t listen to his breathing, or even take his temperature before telling Lee he had mono.
Days later, Lee’s family doctor told him that was ridiculous.
“He said, ‘You don’t have mono, there is no way he would know that without doing any physical tests,'” Lee said.
Lee knew he had been violated.
“And then to find out OSU knew about it for 20 years and did nothing about it?” he said. “That’s when I really felt violated.”
For 37 years, he was a silent victim.
“I never told anyone at OSU, didn’t tell my roommates back then,” Lee said. “I’ve been married to my wife for 30 years and didn’t tell her until a year ago.”
“Tell me what it felt like that first time you opened your mouth and said to someone, ‘Let me tell you, I was a sexual abuse victim?'” reporter Colleen Marshall asked.
“It was a relief, it really was,” Lee responded. “It was a weight off my shoulders that I didn’t even realize was there.”
Lee said more victims need to share their stories, that OSU has been cloaked in secrecy long enough. He wants OSU to be leaders in protecting students and caring for victims. He wants OSU to be a leader in the process of repair.
“The next time it happens at another university, I would want that university to say, ‘What did Ohio State do? They really got control of that situation and let’s follow what they did,'” Lee said.
No one currently in leadership at Ohio State was there during the Strauss years.
In a statement Monday, an OSU spokesman said:
Ohio State has led the effort to investigate and expose Richard Strauss’ abuse and the university’s failure at the time to adequately respond to or prevent it, and we are committed to reaching a monetary resolution as soon as possible, which we are actively pursuing through the mediation process that is underway in federal court.
There are 17 lawsuits involving about 350 litigants represented by multiple teams of lawyers. We very much appreciate the active leadership of the mediator, Judge Michael Barrett, and the federal judge presiding over the cases, Judge Michael Watson.