Published: June 26th, 2023
By: Andy Goldwasser
Over 100 men abused by Ohio State University medical doctor Richard Strauss in the late 1970s finally have an opportunity for justice. The Supreme Court has allowed lawsuits against Strauss to move forward, rejecting an appeal made by the university.
Strauss coached student athletes at Ohio State, and from the 1970s through the 1990s conducted medical examinations on hundreds of men. He sexually abused students while performing “hernia checks” and physicals. At the time, his patients did not suspect any wrongdoing: according to 6th U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore, “most of the men didn’t realize until [years later] that they were sexual abuse victims.” Strauss’s behavior was regarded as standard procedure among his colleagues, which led victims to believe their treatment was acceptable.
In 2018, former Ohio State wrestler Mike DiSabato and several of his prior teammates came forward with information that Strauss had molested them during team physicals. Other coaching staff and administration turned a blind eye when students commented on Strauss’s inappropriate behavior during health checks, and many victims felt hopeless because of the university’s failure to acknowledge the dark truth of what happened inside their locker rooms.
A federal judge ruled in 2021 that the statute of limitations in the case against Dr. Richard Strauss had run out. However, an independent investigation two years prior to this decision found that athletic administrators and staff at the university had known for twenty years that Strauss was sexually abusing students. They failed to notify anyone or put an end to the misconduct.
In a recent statement, Ohio State University claimed that it is “a fundamentally different university today than when Strauss was employed and over the past 20 years has committed substantial resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct.”
The Supreme Court’s latest rulings provide survivors with rights they should have had decades ago. Strauss victim Steve Snyder-Hill believes that this is a monumental step forward in cases against sexual abuse everywhere, noting that “colleges are not going to be able to lie about sexual assault then turn around and tell you it is too late (to sue), since they were so successful in covering it up.” Supreme Court rebuffs OSU and enables the remaining sex abuse victims to sue (nbcnews.com)
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