Ohio State University is named in a new sexual abuse lawsuit. Four former wrestlers filed a lawsuit against the institution, accusing them of not listening to their complaints about sexual misconduct by a now deceased team doctor.
The lawsuit, which was filed by former wrestlers from the 1980s and 90s, said that Dr. Richard Strauss was a prolific sexual predator who may have sexually abused more than 1,500 male students. The athletes who told university officials about Strauss’ misconduct said their complaints weren’t taken seriously.
Steve Snyder-Hill, a former student at Ohio State University, said he went to the university’s health center to get a lump on his chest examined, but Strauss also conducted a genital exam. He allegedly pressed himself into Snyder-Hill and got an erection. When Snyder-Hill told officials about the incident, they said Strauss denied having an erection and that he was only doing his job.
Snyder-Hill told officials that he wanted to know if they received further complaints about Strauss in the future. He never hard another word.
“I felt very, very secure that that guy isn’t going to do this again,” Snyder-Hill said. “I thought I stopped him.”
Two wrestlers named in the lawsuit said they went to former athletic director Andy Geiger during the 1994-95 season and informed him about voyeurism and other lewd acts that Strauss did at the practice facility. However, the university didn’t do anything about it. They didn’t move the team’s practices after that meeting.
“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,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. “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.”
Strauss left the university soon after officials heard complaints about him in 1997. He moved to California in 2005, where he killed himself.
Ohio State is currently reviewing the lawsuit and are “focused on uncovering what may have happened during this era, what university leaders at the time may have known, and whether any response at the time was appropriate.”