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OCR Investigates Ohio State on Doctor Accused of Abuse

August 17, 2018
 
 

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into allegations against a late Ohio State University doctor accused of sexual assault.

Ohio State in April announced its investigation into Dr. Richard Strauss, a former team physician who ended his own life in 2005. The university said it had received reports of sexual misconduct from male alumni in 14 different sports, among them baseball, cheerleading, cross country, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer and wrestling.

Former athletes have accused Strauss of molesting them and alleged that his behavior was an open secret among athletes and staffers at Ohio State.

Strauss was a team physician for 14 years and then briefly worked in the health center.

OCR will investigate whether Ohio State is responding “promptly and equitably” to the complaints of former students, including accusations that university employees knew or should have known about Strauss’s misconduct and allowed the abuse to continue, according to a university statement.

“We welcome the involvement and careful oversight of OCR and look forward to providing any information we can,” said Gates Garrity-Rokous, Ohio State vice president and chief compliance officer. “We responded promptly and appropriately to the allegations received in April about Dr. Strauss. We are confident in the independence and thoroughness of the investigation we launched then as well as our ongoing commitment to transparency.”

The case has made national headlines in part because U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and founder of the House Freedom Caucus, was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994, during Strauss's tenure. A few ex-wrestlers have accused the congressman of failing to stop the abuse.

Jordan has denied knowing anything about Strauss’s conduct. ​Ian Fury, Jordan's spokesman, told Inside Higher Ed last month that the congressman "never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State."

Dunyasha Yetts, a former Ohio State wrestler, told NBC last month that he and teammates talked to Jordan about Strauss many times. “For God’s sake, Strauss’s locker was right next to Jordan’s and Jordan even said he’d kill him if he tried anything with him,” Yetts said.

Fury said Jordan would be willing to assist investigators in any way possible, “because if what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation and justice.”

Ohio State is asking anyone with information about Strauss to email the law firm Perkins Coie LLP at [email protected] The firm is conducting an independent investigation and to date has interviewed more than 200 people, the university said.

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