COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new lawsuit against Ohio State University accuses OSU of having “a culture of institutional indifference” about student safety and rights. Ten more former students are suing OSU over alleged sexual misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss, who worked at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998. The case filed Thursday is the third federal lawsuit brought by men that says OSU failed to appropriately address Strauss’ behavior.
All three lawsuits seek unspecified monetary damages, but unlike the first two filed as a class action suit, the newest case doesn’t propose to represent all Ohio State students mistreated by Strauss.
An independent investigation by Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie is being paid for by Ohio State. University spokesman Ben Johnson said the allegations that people at Ohio State did not respond appropriately are troubling and a critical focus of the current investigation.
Scott Elliott Smith is the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit. Smith said, ”I am not so sure that investigation is to the benefit of the students when they are being paid by Ohio State.
It would depend on what the investigation reveals. And if it was a fair investigation, I cannot comment on it because I haven’t seen it. But you are probably going to work for the person who hired you.”
Smith said the ten plaintiffs, five former tennis players, one soccer player, one track, one wrestling, and one non-athlete student allege that university officials knew about sex abuse by Strauss but failed to stop it. Seven of the plaintiffs are “John Does.”
“They want Ohio State to change. What we have here in our investigation that is revealed so far is four decades of institutional indifference to the rights of students and student athletes.”
“Ohio State has to be held accountable. This has to change. Ohio State is not doing it on their own, so someone has to make them do it,” said Smith.
One of the new plaintiffs in the case is former wrestling captain David Mulvin, who said he was fondled by Strauss during an exam and complained back in the late 1970s to another Ohio State doctor who apparently did nothing.
Steve Snyder-Hill lodged a complaint in 1995 about being inappropriately touched by Strauss during an exam at the student health center. Hill has the documents to prove there was a complaint filed.
Strauss took his own life in 2005. His family has said they were shocked by the sexual abuse allegations.
“Some athletes were afraid that if they didn’t do what they were told to see this doctor when they did not want to see this doctor that they would be rocking the boat. They would be troublemakers. They would jeopardize their scholarship,” said Smith.
“They were scared. They were embarrassed. They knew it was awkward. They knew it was uncomfortable. But they couldn’t put their finger on sexual abuse.
The teammates say to each other he is Doctor jelly paws. Doctor soft hands. Doctor nuts. Things of that nature, just to play it of it. But as you get older and you get wiser , and your experience grows you look back and say that wasn’t right,” said Smith.