More than 100 former students have reported first-hand accounts of misconduct by longtime Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss, as part of the university's rapidly-expanding investigation.
According to a press release Friday from university president Michael Drake, investigators interviewed over 200 former students and staff as part of the probe.
“The allegations date from the period 1979 to 1997 and were reported confidentially to the investigative team by former students engaged in university athletics, including varsity men student-athletes in 14 sports, and by former patients of Student Health Services,” says a statement from school spokesperson Ben Johnson.
Ohio State's investigation is being conducted by the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie. The probe began in April after former wrestlers publicly alleged sexual abuse by Strauss, the team's doctor.
Since then, allegations of abuse have emerged from Strauss' time at the student health center and at his private medical office in Columbus. Investigators are also looking into Strauss' possible contact with high school students.
"We are grateful to those who have come forward and remain deeply concerned for anyone who may have been affected by Dr. Strauss’ actions,” Drake wrote. “We remain steadfastly committed to uncovering the truth.”
Strauss joined Ohio State in 1978 and retired in 1998, before moving to California. He died by suicide in 2005.
This week, five former wrestlers filed two class-action lawsuits against Ohio State, alleging that university officials knew about and failed to stop Strauss' misconduct, which varied from voyeurism and showering with wrestlers to physical abuse during exams.
“Strauss used this position of trust and authority to sexually abuse Plaintiff on multiple occasions,” reads one lawsuit, “by engaging in acts that include, but are not limited to: sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during examinations, including regularly touching Plaintiff’s genitals and breast areas, often at the same time, regularly measuring Plaintiff’s scrotum, and taking photographs of Plaintiff.”
The wrestlers say Strauss' "rampant sexual misconduct" was an open secret at the school. The plaintiffs claim they reported Strauss' actions to the multiple wrestling coaches and administrators in the 1980s and 1990s, to no avail. Both lawsuits seek unspecified monetary damages and look to represent all former students affected by Strauss.
“We are deeply concerned for everyone who may have been affected by Richard Strauss’ actions several decades ago,” Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are also aware of the lawsuits filed by former wrestlers, and we are reviewing them as we do all litigation."
Among the people interviewed was Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an Ohio State wrestling coach from 1987-1995, who has denied claims that he heard reports of Strauss' abuse. A group of former wrestling coaches came forward in defense of Jordan, saying none of them knew about the allegations, while House Speaker Paul Ryan called Jordan a "man of integrity."
The school's investigation is far from complete, with investigators planning another 100 interviews. Ohio State established a website to compile information about the investigation, and asked alumni with information about Strauss to contact Perkins Coie.
This story will be updated with more information.