An amended complaint in a federal lawsuit against Ohio State University alleging officials knew about sexual abuse of student-athletes includes new information about former doctor Richard Strauss compiled from ex-athletes in at least sixteen different sports. The most recently filed complaint includes more students who have come forward, including former hockey player who said he told a trainer about Strauss’ actions, as well as from Brian Garrett, a student who witnessed and experienced sexual misconduct while working for the physician.
In total, nearly three dozen former students have jointly filed complaints alleging university administrators knew about the abuse and didn’t stop Strauss, a team doctor now deceased who has been accused of sexual misconduct. Strauss retired from the university in 1998 after being asked to leave his position and subsequently committed suicide in 2005. His relatives maintain that they are shocked by the allegations.
“The rampant sexual abuse and culture of sexual abuse was reported to Ohio State administrators and to the head of the athletic department,” the complaint states. “But these officials turned a blind eye to the abuse.”
The lawsuit also claims the university violated the federal Title IX law that bars sexual discrimination in education. The university has sought to have the case dismissed due to the statute of limitations while indicating it is still grateful for the people who have come forward and is not dismissing what happened to them.
“When the University of today received reports of sexual misconduct, we immediately and unambiguously took action to get to the truth and live up to one of our core values — that we do not tolerate sexual misconduct,” Ohio State spokesperson Benjamin Johnson said.
One of the newest plaintiffs, a former ice hockey player who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he was groped by Strauss and he and a teammate reported the inappropriate exams in the late 1980s to an assistant athletic trainer. The player said he didn’t know whether the trainer shared the information with anyone in an effort to address the issue.
Another plaintiff, Kent Kilgore, said Strauss groped him during a required physical exam after he joined the swim team in the 1980s. Kilgore said he regrets not coming forward sooner. Instead, he tried his best to surpass the memories.
“I wish I’d have just yelled and screamed and thrown this guy across the room when he had grabbed me,” said Kilgore, now 56. “When he was doing that, I wish I’d have stood up and said something, and that could have stopped some of this stuff way back in the day.”
A law firm conducting an outside investigation has heard from at least 145 ex-students sharing firsthand accounts between 1979 and 1997. Some former students say they spoke up about Strauss as far back as the late 1970s, and the university has at least one documented complaint in 1995. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is examining whether Ohio State officials responded “promptly and equitably” and investigators are looking into whether Strauss ever examined high school students.
Strauss’ employment records indicate that he previously worked at five other universities. There have not been any reported concerns from these universities to date.