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University doctor ‘sexually abused 177 men over 20 years’

A team doctor at Ohio State University sexually abused at least 177 male students over a period of nearly 20 years, an investigation has found.

The university has released findings from a law firm which investigated claims made against Richard Strauss, and concluded that leaders at the school knew about the abuse.

The claims against Strauss span from 1979 to 1997, nearly his entire time at the university.

They involve athletes from at least 16 sports, plus his work at the student health centre and the off-campus clinic.

Many accusers who have spoken publicly said they were groped and inappropriately touched during physical exams. Some said they were ogled in the locker rooms and that athletes joked about his behaviour.

He was nicknamed “Dr Jelly Paws”.

The law firm behind the report interviewed hundreds of former students and university employees.

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The university’s president Michael Drake offered “profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’s abuse”.

He called what happened a “fundamental failure” of the institution and thanked survivors for their courage.

The university has begun the process of stripping Strauss’s emeritus status.

Accusers say more than 20 school officials and staff members knew about the concerns, including a coach who is now a congressman. They say no one tried to stop him.

Ohio Stadium - Richard Strauss worked with athletes at Ohio State in the 1970s, 80s and 90s
Image: Ohio Stadium – Richard Strauss worked with athletes at Ohio State in the 1970s, 80s and 90s

The claims are now part of two related lawsuits against Ohio State. The next stage for those is mediation.

The university said the report included determining what Ohio State knew, but the independence of the investigation has been questioned by lawyers for the accusers and the whistleblower who spurred the investigation last spring.

Ohio State tried to have the lawsuit thrown out because of time restrictions but university leaders say they are not ignoring the men’s stories.

The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is also examining whether Ohio State responded “promptly and equitably” to students’ complaints.

Strauss took his own life in 2005.

No one has publicly defended him but his family said they were shocked at the allegations.

They said they were seeking the truth about him.

Employment records show no major concerns about Strauss before he retired in 1998 but alumni said they complained as early as the late 1970s. Ohio State admitted to having at least one documented complaint from 1995.

The State Medical Board of Ohio said it never disciplined the doctor, but acknowledged having confidential records about the investigation of a complaint involving him.

Records of board communications indicated Ohio State reported Strauss to the medical board but there are no details.

His personal records also show he worked at five other schools, but none have said concerns were raised.

Source: SKY NEWS

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