More than 100 men who were sexually assaulted by Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss have joined the civil lawsuit that was filed on July 16, 2018 – it was the first Strauss-related lawsuit to be filed against the university.
With a united voice, the men are demanding that Ohio State take responsibility for ignoring reports that Strauss, an athletic team doctor, was raping and/or sexually abusing male students, primarily athletes.
Although university officials have said repeatedly that they want to “make things right” for Strauss’ victims, its attorneys have repeatedly gone to court asking for the case to be dismissed, claiming the statute of limitations has expired.
“The longer this drags on, the worse it is for every athlete involved,” victim John Antognoli said. “Being in this state of purgatory is exactly what Dante must have been thinking when he described hell.”
Antognoli is “deeply disappointed” that Ohio State filed a brief in July 2020 once again asking a federal judge to throw out the two-year-old lawsuit.
OSU claims that its liability for enabling Strauss to sexually assault hundreds of OSU students has expired due to the statute of limitations.
But victims’ attorneys maintain the statute of limitations started running in 2018 when OSU’s investigation was announced, or in 2019 when survivors were finally made aware of OSU’s rampant and deliberate indifference with the release of the investigation’s report.
“We recently amended the lawsuit to include new evidence that proves OSU embarked on a coverup aimed at keeping students in the dark about Strauss,” attorney Rex Sharp said. “Since the coverup continued for decades, the survivors could not have known of OSU’s role until very recently, when the coverup was exposed.”
The first report of Strauss’ abuse was made in 1979.
It was ignored.
Hockey player Roger Beedon reported Strauss to assistant athletic director Bill Davis in the late 1980s; he was ignored then and continues to be ignored now.
“The first time I spoke about this was at a November 2018 OSU board of trustees meeting,” Roger said. “And I remember President Drake saying, ‘We sympathize with you, we empathize with you, we’re going to make this right.’ Well, it’s two years later and it’s still not right. It’s still a difficult thing to deal with.”
Roger has been seeing a therapist for two years, which he says has greatly helped with his recovery. But he wants the suit resolved so he and other victims can close this tragic chapter of their lives.
“I’m going to be dealing with this my whole life and I’ve come to terms with that,” Roger said. “But you know the anxiety, the depression, it’s all hard to deal with. Some days are easier than others but it’s still there.”
One victim, who is remaining anonymous, explains why the university’s statute of limitations argument is specious.
“For 22 years – until June 2018 – I believed that I was the only survivor of Richard Strauss’s sexual assault,” he said. “Like most other victims in this case, I buried his abuse and dealt with the emotional pain alone. I did not tell my family, my friends or even my wife. The traumas turned into demons, and the demons set up camp in my mind, and they haven’t left.”
Attorney Stephen Estey points out that Ohio State recently paid out more than $40 million for what were primarily “Strauss voyeurism claims.”
“The reality is that Ohio State does not want to fairly compensate these men for the brutal rape and savage abuse they endured as vulnerable college kids,” Mr. Estey said.
Although OSU abandoned these students decades ago and continues to abandon them today, attorney Robert Allard said, “We’re not going to abandon them. We’re going to fight for them until true justice is delivered.”
Court unseals amended lawsuit against Ohio State.
University fought to have contents sealed.
Read the lawsuit. It is about the institutional coverup by OSU to keep students in the dark about the dangerous threat that Strauss posed, and how several departments across the OSU campus were on direct notice about sexual abuse by Strauss and yet didn’t share it with each other, actively covered for Strauss, and constantly passed the buck to others to deal with—which no one did for 20 years.