Dr. Richard Strauss worked at the Ohio State University for 20 years. He committed suicide in 2005.
(Ohio State University via AP, File)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – At least 145 people have provided firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct by a former Ohio State University team doctor accused of groping of the scores of the male athletes and other students during his two years.
They are among more than 335 people interviewed by the law firm hired to investigate allegations this year about Dr. Richard Strauss, according to an update from the university lawyer read Thursday to a Ohio State trustees’ committee by Provost Bruce McPheron.
The people who are interviewed by the Seattle-based Perkins Coie so far are employees of the athletics, the health center and human resources, as well as administrators of that time, however, a number of key witnesses have since died, according to the letter.
The team has sought 525 subjects from the university of records for the relevant materials, and the researchers say that that number probably will double as researchers continue to try to track down decades-old information from newspapers and people.
“The important passage of time that has occurred since Strauss’ tenure at the university brings with it the additional challenge of scattered witnesses who must first be determined, and then are willing to work together,” McPheron read.
The allegations date from 1979 to 1997, now involving male athletes from at least 16 sports, plus Strauss’ work to the student health center and its off-campus medical office. The researchers also have to assess whether university officials to properly respond to any problems about Strauss during his tenure, and whether Strauss studied at the high school.
There is no deadline for the completion of the nearly 5-month-old investigation, but the lawyers estimate their fact-finding efforts could wrap up this fall if there is no further possibilities for research arise.
Some of the trustees in the Audit and Compliance Committee on a task force monitoring of the research.
“It is a very independent process, very extensive,” said one of them, trustee John Zeiger, who said that the university will have to be clear about what the research concludes.
Strauss killed himself in 2005. His family members have said they were shocked by the allegations and want to know the truth.
Many of the critics who have spoken in public claiming Strauss groped them or performed unnecessary genital exams. Some of them are plaintiffs in three related lawsuits filed against the school.
It is also the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which investigates whether or not Ohio State has responded “quickly and fairly” to the pupils of the complaints, including claims that school officials knew about misconduct by Strauss, but that didn’t stop him.
Ohio State the chief compliance officer has said that the university has responded appropriately since the allegations about Strauss were brought to the notice of this spring.
Some alumni say that they have their concerns about Strauss university employees, as far back as the late 1970’s, in the beginning of Strauss’ tenure. The university has a record of at least one documented complaint in 1995, when a student health center director said a student with a complaint about the fact that it is unsuitable touched by Strauss during an exam was the first complaint he had received.
Ohio State has urged anyone with information about Strauss contact with the outside researchers of Perkins Coie, which is not proactive in reaching potential victims out of concern for possible re-traumatizing.