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Number Of Richard Strauss Accusers Grows To 150

The Ohio State University

Investigators say that 150 people have come forward with first-hand accounts of sexual abuse by longtime Ohio State sports doctor Richard Strauss.

Seven months have passed since Seattle lawfirm Perkins Coie began their independent external investigation into allegations against Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005. In that time, investigators have conducted440 interviews and reviewed more than 34,000 university documents.

“The survivors attended Ohio State at different eras, but did not have contact with eachother,” said Markus Funk, one of the lead investigators, at a Thursday meeting of the Ohio State Board of Trustees. “And yet, their recollections of what doctor Strauss did to them and how he did what he did matches across time.”

The misconduct allegations span from 1979 to 1997, and come from athletes in dozens of sports and from former patients of Student Health Services. More claims have risen from patients of Strauss' off-campus private medical office, which he opened in 1996.

"On behalf of the university community, I want to reiterate our sincere gratitude to those who have come forward," university president Michael Drake said in an email on Thursday.

Funk says they are investigating the knowledge and response – or lack thereof – of Ohio State employees and administrators to Strauss’s conduct.

“We’ve interviewed nearly 300 witnesses, including students and former employees, who were at the university during Strauss’ time at OSU, and in many cases they have been able to provide important evidence to us," Funk says.

Inverstigators say they're also looking into "reports of a sexually exploitative atmosphere in Larkins Hall," the university's now-demolished gymnasium. Perkins Coie says it has kept the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office in the loop as it gathers information.

Dozens of former students have joined two class action lawsuits against Ohio State, alleging that some 20 school officials knew of alleged abuse by Strauss but failed to act. Ohio State moved to have the suits dismissed, claiming they've exceeded the statute of limitations.

Those claims have prompted a Title IX investigationby the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

The investigation is not over yet, although Perkins Coie said they hoped to finish fact-finding this fall. Until the investigation concludes, investigators say they can’t share more detailed findings. As of September, the probe has cost the school $1.5 million.

Accusers will have the chance to testify in front of the Board of Trustees on Friday.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Paige Pfleger is a reporter for WOSU, Central Ohio's NPR station. Before joining the staff of WOSU, Paige worked in the newsrooms of NPR, Vox, Michigan Radio, WHYY and The Tennessean. She spent three years in Philadelphia covering health, science, and gender, and her work has appeared nationally in The Washington Post, Marketplace, Atlas Obscura and more.
Gabe Rosenberg