Ohio State team doctor sexually abused 177 students, report finds

An independent investigation has found that Ohio State team doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused at least 177 men from 1979 to 1997

An independent report finds Ohio State had knowledge of late doctor's sex abuse as early as 1979

OSU President Michael Drake called the alleged abuse a "fundamental failure" of the university and expressed "profound regret and honest apologies to each person" whom Strauss abused.

Similar sex scandals in recent years have embroiled top officials at several major USA institutions of higher education, including Penn State University, Michigan State University and the University of Southern California.

At the same time, Drake sought to distance Ohio State from what happened more than two decades ago: "This is not the university of today".

Two lawsuits filed against Ohio State by dozens of plaintiffs allege school officials were aware of concerns about Strauss but didn't stop him.

The findings come after the University of MI settled with former gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser's victims for $500 million. Michigan State ultimately agreed to a $500 million settlement with his victims.

The report released Friday quoted a former student as saying that Strauss' behavior was an "open secret" in the athletic department, and that 22 coaches confirmed to the investigative team that they'd heard rumors and complaints about Strauss from the late 1970s through the mid 1990s. Strauss, who had been given the nickname "Dr. Jelly Paws", was also known to shower with student athletes and loiter in the locker room, where he would watch them dressing and undressing.

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The abuse at Ohio State went on from 1979 to 1997 and took place at various locations across campus, including examining rooms, locker rooms, showers and saunas, according to investigators.

The report concludes that university personnel at the time had knowledge of complaints and concerns about Strauss' conduct as early as 1979 but failed to investigate or act meaningfully.

Ohio State's president Michael Drake issued a statement on the school's website.

The late Richard Strauss worked with athletic teams and at a student health center for over two decades before he was sacked amid mounting allegations.

"We find this range of acts "abusive" because they exploited the power Strauss enjoyed purely by virtue of his status in the doctor-patient relationship", it said.

University alumnus Kent Kilgore, who says that he is a victim, said he wants the school to take full responsibility. The abuse continued there. That included sending a letter in 1997 to then-university president Gordon Gee. But he was allowed to retire from a faculty position at the university and received emeritus status based on his longstanding service and commitment.

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At least 50 members of the athletic department staff corroborated victims' accounts of Strauss' abuse, the report said.

"We hope that the report will force OSU to take responsibility for its failure to protect young students", Steve Estey, an attorney representing some of the victims, said in a statement. "If OSU refuses to take responsibility, we will continue with civil litigation and put this in front of a jury for 12 people to judge their actions".

No one has publicly defended Strauss, though family members have said they were shocked by the allegations.

Asked if the report provided some closure for Jordan and his alleged role in the controversy, the lawmaker said, "I thought it was closed for me a long time ago and you guys know me - if I thought one of our athletes was being harmed, I've taken on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I've taken on the IRS, John Boehner - I'd have done something". But investigators do not have any other firsthand accounts of the behavior in relation to those activities. The congressman, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, was not mentioned by name in the report.

Most of those claims are part of the lawsuits against Ohio State that are headed to mediation.

In April 2018, the university announced an independent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against Dr. Richard Strauss, who was employed by Ohio State from 1978 to 1998.

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