Two New Lawsuits Hit Ohio State for Ignoring Wrestlers’ Sex Abuse

Ohio State University (OSU) was hit with a pair of lawsuits this week by former wrestlers who claim university officials ignored complaints of sex abuse and harassment against a team doctor. One of the complaints alleged that up to 2,500 male student athletes might have been subjected to the abuse or harassment.

“Two class-action lawsuits filed by former wrestlers claim Ohio State University turned a blind eye to a doctor’s alleged sexual abuse of student athletes”

A former OSU wrestler identified only as “John Doe 1” alleges in a new lawsuit filed Tuesday in a Ohio federal court that Dr. Richard Strauss subjected him to “sexual harassment and inappropriate touching” during his “approximately 20 medical examinations.”

The new complaint followed Monday’s similar lawsuit in which four former OSU wrestlers alleged that Strauss committed “multiple instances” of abuse during the 1980s and 1990s.

In the original lawsuit filed Monday, lawyers for the plaintiffs alleged that Strauss may have abused or harassed “1,500 to 2,500 male student athletes” during his 20 years of employment at the Big Ten university.

“OSU forced student athletes to make a chilling decision: either seek treatment from Dr. Strauss and submit to his molestation, or forego treatment and live with illness or injury,” lawyers alleged in Monday’s pleadings. “With their collegiate athletic careers and scholarships on the line, many athletes sought treatment from Dr. Strauss for their physical conditions, at a high cost to their mental and emotional health.”

 

Ohio State announced last month that former student athletes from 14 sports, as well as students who were treated by Strauss at Student Health Services, have all come forward with the same kind of sexual misconduct allegations against the team doctor.

OSU on Tuesday evening responded by saying that the university “remains actively committed to uncovering what may have happened and what university leaders at the time may have known” about Dr. Strauss’ alleged abuse of OSU athletes and students.

“We are aware of reports that individuals at the university did not respond appropriately during that era. These allegations are troubling and are a critical focus of the current investigation,” the university said in a statement.

The second lawsuit filed Tuesday said that Strauss “posed a substantial risk of sexual abuse, harassment and molestation to the young male student-patients who sought treatment through OSU.”

The wrestler who filed the suit has remained anonymous but said in the filings that he was “inappropriately touched and sexually harassed while receiving care” from Strauss on multiple occasions. He was on OSU’s wrestling team from 1982 through 1984.

Neither lawsuit names Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan, a former OSU assistant wrestling coach, as a defendant. However, nearly a dozen former OSU wrestlers have publicly stated that Jordan knew about the alleged sex abuse of athletes under his supervision, and did nothing about it. Jordan has continually denied those claims from his former athletes, and has proclaimed that he will cooperate with third-party officials in their investigation for the university.

As these lawsuits continue over the next few months it is possible that Jim Jordan might be included as a defendant.  Regardless, the suits are sure to be an embarrassment for the Congressman as he seeks reelection in November.