Sexual assault investigation into former Ohio State doctor expands, involves athletes from many sports

Dr. Saturday
Ohio State is investigating alleged sexual misconduct committed by Richard Strauss, a longtime physician for OSU athletics who died in 2005. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ohio State is investigating alleged sexual misconduct committed by Richard Strauss, a longtime physician for OSU athletics who died in 2005. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Last month, Ohio State announced it had opened an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Dr. Richard Strauss, a former Buckeyes wrestling team physician who died in 2005 at age 67.

At the time the investigation into Strauss’ “behavior with student-athletes and other sexual misconduct” was announced, one alleged victim had come forward saying he and others were abused by Strauss, who worked at Ohio State “from the mid-1970s to the 1990s.” The school also encouraged others to come forward.

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In an update published Thursday, the school revealed that the investigative team “has received confidential reports from former Ohio State varsity men student-athletes affiliated with cheerleading, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball and wrestling.” With that information present, the school said Strauss treated OSU student-athletes from several sports in addition to wrestling, and also worked at the medical center and student health center.

“We are sharing this information to encourage our community past and present to come forward,” the school said.

A former OSU wrestler told the Columbus Dispatch he was sexually assaulted by Strauss.

Mike DiSabato, who was a wrestler at Ohio State from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, told The Dispatch he was sexually assaulted by Strauss. He said he told university officials about the abuse on a number of occasions — as early as the mid-1990s — and again recently.

“I am pleased to see that the university has finally taken the steps to address the systematic sexual abuse which occurred over a 20-year time frame and was ignored at the highest levels of the university,” DiSabato said of Ohio State’s investigation. “I am hopeful that the university will take immediate steps to remove all those who had knowledge and or have knowledge and did nothing.”

On top of the other sports mentioned, the Dispatch reported Thursday that Strauss was also a physician for the lacrosse team “during the mid-1990s.”

In April, The Lantern, OSU’s student newspaper, spoke to another former athlete who says he was sexually assaulted by Strauss. That athlete said Strauss worked with the baseball team, too.

From The Lantern:

The scope of Strauss’ alleged misconduct has continued to widen since the university announced the investigation in April. A former athlete who was sexually assaulted by Strauss told The Lantern that Strauss also was a team doctor for the baseball and fencing teams, and Thursday’s announcement shines further light on just how widespread Strauss’ misconduct could be.

The former Ohio State varsity athlete said he was sexually assaulted twice by Strauss during physical examinations during the fall of 1994 and 1995. In the spring of 1997, the athlete was approached to testify in a hearing against Strauss. Despite not participating, he said he knew of at least three former athletes that attended a hearing.

Ohio State reiterated Thursday that the investigation has been referred to Columbus Police and the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office “for any potential criminal investigation.”

Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie LLP is leading the investigation.

“The Ohio Attorney General’s Office appointed Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP as legal counsel for the university, and in turn, Porter Wright engaged Perkins Coie LLP to conduct an independent investigation of the matter,” the school said.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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