COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Several former students and student-athletes at Ohio State University have described sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss, who worked at the university from 1978 until he retired in 1998. Interviews with Strauss’ victims and lawsuits filed on their behalf have named several Ohio State officials alleged to have known about the abuse but done nothing about it. Among those:
OFFICIAL: John Daly, Ohio State head tennis coach, now retired
Allegation: Regularly joked about Strauss’ alleged misconduct in front of players and training staff, telling players to work hard “or you will be sent to Dr. Strauss,” according to a July 26 lawsuit in federal court in Columbus. Was told by one player he would never again get medical treatment from Strauss, and didn’t take action on the complaint, according to the lawsuit.
Response: Has not responded to messages left about the allegations.
OFFICIAL: Andy Geiger, Ohio State athletic director, 1994-2005
Allegation: During the 1994-95 wrestling season, two wrestlers met with Geiger to complain about “voyeuristic and lewd conduct” of men in the locker rooms and saunas of Larkins Hall, where the wrestling team practiced. Those complaints also included inappropriate behavior by Strauss, according to a July 17 class-action lawsuit in federal court in Columbus. The wrestlers presented Geiger with drawings of changes to the wrestling and gymnastics locker room to enhance safety and student-athlete privacy, the lawsuit said. Geiger promised to look into the situation, but OSU did nothing to make the athletes safer, the complaint said.
Response: Geiger told the AP he doesn’t remember any complaints about Strauss. He says he did speak with former wrestling head coach Russ Hellickson about the coach’s complaint about voyeurism in the showers at Larkins Hall.
OFFICIAL: Ted Grace, former director of Ohio State Student Health Center, 1992-2008
Allegation: Ex-student Steve Snyder-Hill complained about Strauss after an invasive 1995 exam of his genitals and rectum and inappropriate questions about Snyder-Hill’s sex life, according to an AP interview with Snyder-Hill and a July 26 federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Snyder-Hill and nine other men. Snyder-Hill said Grace told him by phone that Strauss denied his allegations and that the university had never received complaints about Strauss before, “although we have had several positive comments,” according to a follow-up letter sent by Grace.
Response: Grace now leads student health services at Southern Illinois University. He has declined to comment through a spokeswoman there.
OFFICIAL: Jim Jordan, ex-assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995 and now a Republican U.S. congressman running for House speaker
Allegation: Several ex-wrestlers say he knew about Strauss’ abuse when he was an assistant coach at Ohio State, as well as the lewd behavior in Larkins Hall.
Response: Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing of any abuse and said he would have reported it if he’d heard of it. “Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse,” Jordan told Fox News on July 6.
OFFICIAL: Russ Hellickson, head Ohio State wrestling coach, 1986-2006
Allegation: Included in a list of Ohio State employees who were made aware of abuse by Strauss, meaning the university “had actual knowledge of the serial sexual assault, abuse, and molestation committed by Dr. Strauss” and thus were required to promptly investigate the allegations, according to the July 26 lawsuit.
Response: In a video statement and in two emailed statements, Hellickson has said he never ignored abuse of wrestlers. He says he confronted Strauss about his excessive showering and hands-on examinations, and has also said he had numerous conversations with an official in charge of campus recreation and other university administrators about Larkins Hall. But, Hellickson has said, nothing changed for years until the team moved to a new training facility near the end of his tenure. Hellickson’s supporters include several wrestlers critical of the university for its response to the Strauss allegations.
OFFICIAL: Frank Zubovich, former head track coach, now retired
Allegation: Was told by students about Strauss’ behavior, including one senior track and field athlete who told Zubovich that he would not see Dr. Strauss again; Zubovich is alleged to have done nothing, according to the July 26 federal lawsuit.
Response: Has not responded to messages seeking comment.
ALLEGATIONS of knowing about Strauss and failing to act have also been raised against four now deceased officials: former athletic director Hugh Hindman; assistant athletic director Richard Delaney; associate sports information director Steve Snapp; and athletic trainer Billy Hill.
In addition, former Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and former vice president of human resources Linda Tom have said they don’t remember receiving any complaints about Strauss when they were at the school in the 1990s.
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
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