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Ohio State University Physician Sexual Misconduct

  • August 31, 2018
  • KBA Attorneys
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Widespread allegations of sexual abuse are being made against Dr. Richard Strauss, an athletic doctor for the Ohio State University.

A former OSU wrestler, identified as John Doe, has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that Strauss sexually harassed and inappropriately touched him during approximately 20 medical examinations. The lawsuit alleges that Strauss may have sexually abused up to 2,500 male students during his twenty years with the school.

According to the lawsuit, students complained about Strauss as early as 1978. The Complaint further alleges that the University knew of allegations against Strauss, but failed to act. Count I of the Complaint alleges Title IX violations on behalf of a class of students who have been sexually assaulted by Dr. Strauss. Count II of the Complaint is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, which provides a civil remedy for governmental actors who deprive citizens of constitutional rights. In this case, the plaintiffs allege that they were deprived of due process rights to be free from the invasion of bodily integrity through sexual assault, battery, molestation, and harassment. Generally, governmental entities are immune to claims of simple negligence. Therefore, under their Section 1983 claim, the plaintiffs have alleged that the University’s response to Dr. Strauss was so unreasonable that it amounted to deliberate indifference.

The University announced recently that athletes in several sports have complained about sexual misconduct. On Thursday, August 30, 2018, independent investigators reported that the number of students who say Dr. Strauss molested them has climbed to 145. According to investigators, the fact-gathering phase of the investigation will not be concluded until fall. More than a dozen wrestlers told the news that Dr. Strauss would shower with the team. The investigative team has said that the University had an “exploitative atmosphere.” They have interviewed more than 100 people who worked at Ohio State during nearly a twenty-year period.

Some former Ohio State wrestlers have accused congressman Jim Jordan, a former assistant wrestling coach, of ignoring allegations of Strauss’s abuse. One of the wrestlers has gone as far as saying that Rep. Jordan was explicitly informed of the abuse and did nothing.

Ohio State is also under fire recently for its head football coach, Urban Meyer, failing to act on allegations of domestic abuse against its former wide receivers coach, Zach Smith. Urban Meyer was recently placed on administrative leave related to his failure to act. He has also been suspended the first three games of Ohio States season.

It appears that sexual abuse on college campuses has been a widespread problem that is only recently being uncovered. Ohio States troubles come after former Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to a criminal sexual misconduct against hundreds of gymnasts. Michigan State was forced to pay a $500 million settlement related to the claims of 332 women that Nassar sexually abused. Unlike Nassar, Strauss will not face criminal charges – he committed suicide in 2005.

Recoverable Damages

While the lawsuits against Ohio State related to Strauss’s misconduct are still in their early stages, the evidence against the University thus far is significant. Civil lawsuits are designed to compensate victims in the form of economic and non-economic damages. With respect to economic damages, victims may allege they incurred, or will incur in the future, medical bills associated psychiatric treatments from being abused. They may also allege they suffered lost earnings from missing work due to psychiatric harm or stress. Non-economic damages in the form of pain, suffering, and mental anguish are also recoverable.

If you, or someone you know, suffered sexual abuse from an employee at Ohio State, or any other University, contact Peter Anderson of Ketterer, Browne and Anderson.