Four former Ohio State University wrestlers filed a lawsuit against the school on Monday, alleging administrators knew that team doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused several athletes over twenty-years ago but failed to act against it.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, the suit, filed in federal court in Columbus, alleges that male athletes in 14 different sports were subjected to “excessive and medically unnecessary fondling, touching and groping during routine medical examinations,” and despite university officials repeatedly being informed of the abuse, Ohio State “failed to take appropriate action, or any action whatsoever, to stop or prevent Dr. Strauss from continuing his rampant sexual misconduct.”
The lawsuit reportedly also alleges that one student complained about Strauss to the university’s student health center in 1978, and in the mid-’90s, two wrestlers reported Strauss to then-Athletic Director Andy Geiger, while another reported the groping to the wrestling coach at the time, Russ Hellickson.
Ohio State officials addressed the allegations in a hearing in 1997, according to the complaint, but Dr. Strauss was was allegedly allowed to “quietly retire,” without facing disciplinary action. Ohio State has yet to formally respond to the complaint.
The suits four unnamed victims, one who was allegedly 14-years-old when the abuse started, claim to have suffered physical, mental and emotional distress as a result of the university’s failure to properly investigate the allegations against Strauss. The lawsuit is reportedly seeking unspecified damages as well as an injunctive order that the university enact a program to protect future student athletes.