From 1978 to 1998, Richard Strauss was employed by Ohio State as a physician treating students, including student-athletes. Strauss died in 2005.

In March 2018, Ohio State received a report from a former student-athlete about sexual abuse by Strauss decades earlier. Ohio State took the allegations seriously and acted immediately. Less than one week later, on April 5, 2018, the university announced an investigation and notified the Columbus Division of Police. Perkins Coie LLP was retained to conduct an external, independent investigation.  

Ohio State contacted 115,000 alumni and former student-athletes about the investigation. The university also reached out to another 147,000 people through university-wide notifications to inform them of the investigation; encourage them to share any information they had with the independent investigators; and provide updates.

Change at Ohio State

Ohio State is a fundamentally different university today than it was when Strauss was an employee. The university has embraced and enhanced stringent compliance standards separate and apart from its response to Strauss. Over the past 25 years, Ohio State has made robust changes to its culture and policies to protect students, faculty and staff.

Independent investigation and response  

On May 17, 2019, after a thorough, year-long independent investigation, Ohio State publicly released and posted online the 182-page Perkins Coie Report summarizing the investigation and its findings, along with more than 17,500 pages of records relating to Strauss. The investigation found that at least 177 male students were sexually abused by Strauss.  

Ohio State condemns Strauss’ reprehensible conduct and the university’s failure at the time to prevent the abuse. Ohio State has expressed and continues to express regret and sincere apologies to each person impacted by Strauss’ abuse and thanks the survivors for courageously bringing Strauss’ abuse to light.

The university has spent the past five years focused on supporting survivors and discovering and sharing the facts. As part of this effort, Ohio State established a task force on sexual abuse, which included national and university experts who partnered with survivors of sexual abuse, including a Strauss survivor.

The university took special action to revoke Strauss’ emeritus status in 2019. 

Survivors have also had the opportunity to speak to the Board of Trustees annually from 2018 to 2022. Ohio State is committed to continuing its larger efforts to support survivors and prevent sexual abuse. As part of this effort, the university is developing a new forum to allow individuals who have already settled to engage in further dialogue with Ohio State officials.

“Our deepest gratitude goes to the survivors of Strauss’ abuse for their courage in coming forward. They brought this terrible abuse to light, and the university is committed to continuing to work toward restorative justice.”

Former President Kristina M. Johnson
The Ohio State University

Lawsuits and settlements

Numerous lawsuits were filed against the university during and after the investigation.

Ohio State offered survivors the opportunity to settle their suits for substantial amounts. The majority of the survivors settled their claims. Ohio State provided more than $60 million to 296 individuals through a trauma-informed approach that did not require survivors to prove they were harmed through any litigation process such as discovery or depositions. Ohio State has sincerely and persistently tried to reconcile with survivors through monetary and non-monetary means, and all male students who filed lawsuits have been offered the opportunity to settle. The remaining plaintiffs who were male students rejected monetary offers and continue to pursue their legal claims. 

“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse. Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable – as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members.”

Former President Michael V. Drake
The Ohio State University

Survivor Support

Ohio State is committed to supporting survivors.

Since February 2019, the university has covered the cost of professionally certified counseling services and other medical treatment to Strauss survivors and their families for as long as needed. It has also reimbursed costs for pre-existing counseling and treatment related to Strauss. This is offered through Praesidium, which has extensive experience providing confidential and sensitive support services. No contact with the university is required, and Praesidium will not share identifying information with Ohio State.

Ohio State will continue to cover the full cost of counseling services and provide other forms of institutional support. 

Ohio State’s commitment

Driven by integrity, empathy and transparency, Ohio State will continue to provide services to survivors and enhance the university’s many programs designed to protect students and the campus community from sexual abuse.