The Department of Education announced Thursday it has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by former Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss.
The Office for Civil Rights will examine whether Ohio State responded “promptly and equitably” to students’ allegations, including claims that school officials knew about Strauss’ behavior but did nothing to stop it.
Ohio State’s chief compliance officer, Gates Garrity-Rokous, said the school has responded appropriately since the allegations against Strauss surfaced this spring.
“We are confident in the independence and thoroughness of the investigation we launched then as well as our ongoing commitment to transparency,” he said.
Several lawsuits have been filed against the school, including a recent suit filed by ten former students claiming the school fostered an “ingrained culture of institutional indifference” that “succeeded in keeping Dr. Strauss’ two decades of serial sexual abuse buried.”
One of the plaintiffs and also a former OSU tennis player, Ron McDaniel, said he told a team trainer and other athletes that Strauss touched him inappropriately while being treated for a cold back in 1982.
“And they started laughing and they were, like, ‘You got hit. You’re a rookie. You didn’t know?’ And I was, like, ‘What, know what?’ And they were, like, ‘You could go to him for a hangnail and he has to check your testicles,’” McDaniel said.
Another lawsuit, filed on behalf of four former wrestlers, claims coaches and administrators were “repeatedly informed” of Strauss’ alleged sexual abuse dating all the way back to the 70s.
Ohio State said allegations that staff didn’t properly respond are a key part of an ongoing independent investigation being conducted by law firm Perkins Coie.
The school also announced Thursday that it has retained Columbus law firm Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP to handle litigation regarding the lawsuits filed against them, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
School officials urge that anyone with information about Strauss’ alleged abuse contact the law firm, noting investigators aren’t reaching out directly to former students who may have been examined by Strauss as to not re-traumatize potential victims.
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