Former Ohio State Student Says He Warned School About Abuse Decades Ago | WOSU Radio

Former Ohio State Student Says He Warned School About Abuse Decades Ago

Jul 17, 2018

Steve Snyder-Hill calls it his "insurance policy."

It’s a letter he sent to Ohio State University officials after Snyder-Hill says he was molested by Richard Strauss, a university doctor who’s accused of sexually assaulting former Ohio State athletes.

Strauss also saw non-athletes at the school’s student health center, and that’s where Snyder-Hill says he encountered him sometime in the mid-1990s. Snyder-Hill was a student who went to the health center to have someone look at a bump on his chest.

“He proceeded to do a full-body exam, including my genitalia area, which is completely unorthodox because I was there for my chest,” Snyder-Hill says.

Snyder-Hill says Strauss then had him lie down to examine his chest, and in the process rubbed his erect penis against Snyder-Hill’s body.

Snyder-Hill says he didn’t tell his parents or friends about the incident because he was still a closeted gay man and thought someone would blame him. But he says he wrote the letter to health center leaders to document what happened.

Snyder-Hill could not immediately find a copy of the letter, but says he’s confident it’s located in his basement. At the time he spoke to WOSU, Snyder-Hill was also in contact with Perkins Coie, the law firm handling the Strauss investigation for Ohio State.

Snyder-Hill says both the law firm and Ohio State confirm they have some documentation about his complaint.

There is no record of Snyder-Hill’s complaint in Strauss’ personnel file that Ohio State posted last month. Strauss retired in 1998 and died in 2005 in what investigators ruled a suicide.

Snyder-Hill says after he made the complaint, someone wrote back saying Strauss denied the accusations. Snyder-Hill says he decided to move on and not pursue legal action, but he wanted the school to be on notice about Strauss.

“I put in the complaint at the time that if somebody else has had this happen, I want to know,” Snyder-Hills says. “And if this ever happens again to anybody else, you have better notify me. Because I will hang on to this documentation. And if this happens to other people, it’s gonna be really bad.”

Last month, Ohio State announced the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Strauss had nearly doubled to include athletes from 14 sports and non-students from outside of campus. The outside law firm conducting interviews told university trustees they've spoken to at least 130 people in connection with their investigation.

Ohio State University spokesperson Ben Johnson declined an interview about Snyder-Hill's allegations, and instead emailed a written statement:

We are aware of reports that individuals at the university did not respond appropriately during Richard Strauss’ time at Ohio State from 1978-1998. These allegations are troubling and are a critical focus of the independent investigation that remains underway. Ohio State is 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. We encourage anyone with information about incidents relating to Dr. Strauss and his time at Ohio State to contact the independent investigators at osu@perkinscoie.com. Updates and documents on the ongoing investigation are available at www.osu.edu.

Four former wrestlers filed a lawsuit on Monday against Ohio State for ignoring repeated complaints about Strauss, who they claim may have assaulted upwards of 1,500 students at the university.