Ohio State Finds Team Doctor Sexually Abused 177 Male Students

Ohio State has concluded that a team doctor sexually abused at least 177 men, including many varsity athletes, while working for the university in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. The university also found that college officials knew about the actions for years and did not act to stop them.

In a report issued Friday, Ohio State said the doctor, Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, had groped students, required them to strip, and asked intimate questions about sexual practices under the guise of providing medical treatment.

The university said that college personnel knew about Dr. Strauss’s activities as early as 1979 but that no reports advanced out of the athletic department or student health department until 1996. After his actions were finally reported, he was suspended and then removed from his post, but he remained a tenured faculty member. Dr. Strauss then opened an off-campus clinic and continued to abuse students. He was still a professor emeritus at the time of his death, though Ohio State said Friday that it would begin the process of revoking that status.

Athletes reported coming in for treatment for a variety of ailments, including one who had a sore throat, only to find that Dr. Strauss would touch their genitals. The report said that in one case, when a student responded to abuse “with anger and some physicality,” Dr. Strauss accused the student of assaulting him.

In a statement, Michael V. Drake, the Ohio State president, said: “The findings are 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. 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.”

The report said: “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.

An investigation in 1994 by Ohio State’s director of sports medicine dismissed the charges as “unfounded rumors.”

An Ohio State investigation found that Dr. Richard Strauss, a team doctor employed by the university for two decades, sexually abused 177 men.CreditUncredited/Ohio State University, via Associated Press

“Despite the persistence, seriousness and regularity of such complaints, no meaningful action was taken by the university to investigate or address the concerns until January 1996.”

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