Ohio State Students File Sexual Abuse Lawsuits After University Doctor Molested Athletes, Patients

A growing number of Ohio State University alumni are stepping forward to pursue claims for sexual abuse and assault by a former team doctor, indicating that university staff knew about the inappropriate actions for years, but failed to take appropriate actions. 

On Tuesday, 29 men were added to a complaint (PDF), over sexual abuse by former Ohio State University physician and athletic team doctor, Dr. Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005.

The initial lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in July, by Steve Snyder-Hill, Ronald McDaniel, David Mulvin, and seven other plaintiffs identified only as John Doe. It names Ohio State University as the defendant, and is one of two cases filed against the university over claims Strauss abused students. The other is a class action lawsuit filed the same month.

According to allegations in the complaint, Strauss sexually groped young male athletes and other patients during examinations. Plaintiffs say they raised concerns with Ohio State University about Strauss’s behavior, but say the University did nothing.

The University is trying to have the cases dismissed, arguing that it was filed beyond the statute of limitations, which limits how long individuals have to bring lawsuits forward. However, the University says it has hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims of abuse.

Ohio State University employed Strauss from 1978 through 1998. While the school has maintained that it has no record of complaints against Strauss, plaintiffs say they complained repeatedly.

“Dr. Strauss’s sexual abuse of OSU students included fondling their testicles and penises, digitally penetrating their rectums, touching their bodies in other inappropriate ways, making inappropriate comments about their bodies, and asking improper, sexualized questions– all in the guise of providing needed medical evaluation and care,” the lawsuit states. “Dr. Strauss’s inappropriate touching was a frequent topic of discussion and well known among OSU’s student-athletes, trainers, coaches, and athletic directors.”

The lawsuit comes as Ohio State University is involved in another class action lawsuit filed against USA Diving. That lawsuit, also filed in July on behalf of 50 plaintiffs, claims that Will Bohonyl, a former OSU diving coach and gynecologist, regularly sexually assaulted female athletes.

The claims are also similar to those made by hundreds of women and girls molested by Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University (MSU) gynecologist who worked with USA Gymnastics.

Many of the women, who call themselves the Sister Survivors, indicate that they told MSU staff, USA Gymnastics officials and others about Nassar’s behavior, but were discouraged from reporting the incidents. Some testimony even suggested that MSU officials told the survivors that they simply did not know the difference between sexual assault and a medical examination. However, after victims began to step forward publicly, the abuse finally got over-due attention and Nassar was arrested, tried, and found guilty on multiple charges.

After receiving a federal sentence of 60 years on child pornography charges last year, Nassar will spend the rest of his life in jail. He has also received two additional sentences; including one for 40 to 175 years, and another of 40 to 125 years from verdicts in two Michigan courts.

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