A year long investigation has concluded that Dr. Richard H. Strauss, who worked as a team doctor for Ohio State University, sexually abused at least 177 varsity male athletes from at least 16 sports over a nearly twenty year period.
According to a 182-page report issued Friday, Strauss would require the young athletes to strip, would grope them and make inquires of intimate/sexual nature all under the guise of providing medical treatment or examination.
“From roughly 1979 to 1996, male students complained that Strauss routinely performed excessive — and seemingly medically unnecessary — genital exams, regardless of the medical condition the student-patients presented,” read one excerpt from the report via the New York Times.
Over 520 subjects took part in nearly 600 interviews throughout the investigation.
The investigators wrote, “Strauss’ acts of abuse ranged from the overt — such as fondling to the point of erection and ejaculation — to more subtle acts of abuse that were masked with a pretextual medical purpose — for example, requiring a student-patient to strip completely naked to purportedly ‘assess’ an orthopedic condition, or asking probing questions about a student-patient’s sexual practices or performance.”
One of the athletes who spoke to investigators said he once complained of a sore throat to Strauss, which lead to a genital exam.
One former wrestler, Nick Nutter, came forward last year saying the doctor groped him “19 exams out of 20.”
In addition, several former students shared that Strauss was known to shower with students, and hang out in the locker room.
The investigators found that many of the students were under the impression the physician’s behavior was an “open secret” and that coaches, trainers, even other team doctors knew of the sexual improprieties.
Indeed, the report shows that several coaches and players reported incidents involving Strauss over the years, but the complaints never saw Strauss held accountable.
There were so many complaints that an investigation was launched in 1994 by the university’s director of sports medicine, Dr. John Lombardo. He eventually dismissed the allegations calling them “unfounded rumors.”
Lombardo refused to sit for an interview with the investigators.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), now a powerful conservative congressman, was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1987 to 1995. Jordan has maintained he never heard any of the rumors regarding Strauss, even though the investigation by Dr. Lombardo occurred during Jordan’s tenure as an assistant coach.
Jordan told the Washington Post he feels vindicated by the newly-released report saying it found no evidence he knew about the sexual abuses.
Actually, the report doesn’t mention him by name at all.
“I think the report speaks for itself,” said Jordan. “It confirmed everything I have said all along.”
But several former Ohio State wrestlers came forward over the past year insisting the rumors were so widespread Jordan must have heard or knew something about the inappropriate behavior.
Twenty-two coaches interviewed by investigators said they were aware of rumors or complaints regarding Strauss, reports the Washington Post.
Upon the release of today’s report, Ohio State President Michael Drake issued a statement calling the findings “shocking and painful to comprehend.”
“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’s abuse,” Drake continued. “Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable — as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members.”
Three groups of victims have filed law suits against the university, and Ohio State is said to be “actively participating in a mediation process.”
While Strauss was still a professor emeritus at the time of his death in 2005, Ohio State told the press today it would begin proceedings to revoke that honor.