Fifth Ohio State Wrestler Files Class-Action Lawsuit Over Doctor's Sexual Abuse

Jul 18, 2018

A fifth former wrestler is suing The Ohio State University over sexual abuse by longtime sports doctor Richard Strauss. The class-action lawsuit claims the university ignored concerns of misconduct throughout the two decades Strauss worked there.

The law firm Sauder Schelkopf filed the federal lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of an unnamed wrestler, just one day after four ex-wrestlers sued the school for knowing about and failing to stop Strauss’ “rampant sexual misconduct.”

Tuesday’s lawsuit claims that the wrestler, who now lives in South Carolina, had to see Strauss repeatedly for medical examinations while he attended the school from 1982-1984.

“Strauss used this position of trust and authority to sexually abuse Plaintiff on multiple occasions,” the lawsuit reads, “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.”

Both lawsuits, which seek unspecified monetary damages and propose to represent all Ohio State students mistreated by Strauss, make similar allegations. Wrestlers have accused the university of ignoring an “open secret” of Strauss’ misconduct, which included showering with wrestlers as well as physical abuse.

“We are deeply concerned for everyone who may have been affected by Richard Strauss’ actions several decades ago,” Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson wrote in an emailed statement on Wednesday. 

“We are also aware of the lawsuits filed by former wrestlers, and we are reviewing them as we do all litigation. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has appointed Michael Carpenter of Carpenter Lipps & Leland to represent the university in these lawsuits,” the statement added.

Multiple survivors have claimed that they told other wrestling coaches or administrators about Strauss’ conduct, but the school did not act on their complaints. Another former student, Steve Snyder-Hill, told WOSU that he unsuccessfully reported sexual abuse from Strauss in the 1990s while the doctor was working at the student health center.

Ohio State opened an independent investigation into Strauss in April, during which over 200 people have been interviewed. Male athletes from 14 sports, as well as outside of the athletic program, have raised allegations of sexual misconduct. In total, more than 100 students have come forward with firsthand accounts of misconduct by Strauss.

Strauss died in 2005 after leaving the university. His death was ruled a suicide.

A separate lawsuit was levied last week against the Ohio State Diving Club and USA Diving by two former divers over sexual abuse by former team coach Will Bohonyi.

The university says it opened an administrative investigation into Bohonyi in 2014 immediately after learning about the allegations, and fired him in 2014.

Update 7/20/18: Added most recent numbers on Ohio State's investigation.