Additional lawsuits filed against Ohio State over Strauss abuse

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – New lawsuits have been filed against The Ohio State University by former football players, wrestlers and a swimmer who have alleged that they too were among the hundreds of former athletes who were sexually abused by former team doctor, Richard Strauss.

The lawsuits allege that these student-athletes were unnecessarily examined and sexually assaulted by Strauss and that university staff had knowledge of these incidents but failed to act in a timely manner.

Strauss served at The Ohio State University from 1978 until 1998. He died by way of suicide in 2005.

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A March 25 lawsuit filed on behalf of former football players and wrestlers states that the “plaintiffs take no pleasure in bringing this lawsuit. OSU is an esteemed institution of higher learning and a large majority of the Plaintiffs continue to love OSU dearly and remain devoted members of Buckeye Nation. As such, plaintiffs have an extremely difficult time understanding how “the state up north” can fully acknowledge and compensate the victims/survivors of sexual abuse, whereas a leading Big 10 institution such as OSU has struggled to do so.”

That statement was in reference to Michigan State University and settlements reached as a result of the sexual assaults conducted by Dr. Larry Nassar on student-athletes.

Earlier this month, Ohio State announced that it had reached settlements in 11 lawsuits filed by former student-athletes who alleged they were abused by Strauss.

Mediation talks had stalled with other survivors and these latest lawsuits add to the ongoing legal fight over Strauss’ behavior.

There are now 21 lawsuits filed against OSU related to Strauss, according to a university spokesman.

The university had no updated comment Friday but referred a report back to the university’s previous statement.

In another lawsuit, filed March 19, attorneys representing a former swimmer have not identified their client, but say that “John Doe” is a Franklin County resident who attended OSU as a swimmer between 1984 and 1988.

The lawsuit alleges that the swimmer was examined by Dr. Strauss on more than 40 occasions “all of which took place at Larkins Hall and many of the examinations were solicited by Dr. Strauss. As a varsity scholarship athlete, Plaintiff felt compelled to submit to examinations that were performed by OSU’s designated Team Physician. Dr. Strauss routinely requested that Plaintiff remove his clothing and routinely touched and fondled Plaintiff’s genitals for extended periods of time. Dr. Strauss further placed his face in close proximity to Plaintiff’s genitals. The routine touching and fondling would occur irrespective of the condition or ailment for which Plaintiff was seen and/or examined by Dr. Strauss,” the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint goes on to state that “for example, Dr. Strauss responded to requests for decongestant medication by requesting Plaintiff to remove his clothing and submit to an examination which included the touching and fondling of Plaintiff’s genitals.”

The lawsuit also alleges that this swimmer “trusted and believed that The Ohio State University would not have made Dr. Strauss the athletic team doctor for swimming as well as other sports and would not allowed athletes to be examined by Dr. Strauss unless his examinations were appropriate and necessary. It was only within the last two years and after The Ohio State University announced its investigation in April of 2018 that Plaintiff knew or had reason to know that the conduct of Dr. Strauss was medically unnecessary and constituted unlawful sexual abuse, assault and/or sexual harassment.”

An independent investigation conducted by the law firm Perkins Coie is referenced in this lawsuit.

The investigation by Perkins Coie found that Dr. Strauss conducted medically inappropriate and unnecessary methods and that Strauss’s conduct was for his own sexual gratification and that his alleged behavior was widely known in the athletics department – including that Strauss had showered alongside student-athletes.

The complaints also states there was a “persistence, seriousness, and regularity of complaints involving Dr. Strauss” and that no meaningful action was taken until 1996 when the university undertook what the lawsuit described as a “limited investigation” into the history of complaints surrounding Strauss.

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