BC-US--Ohio State-Team Doctor,1st Ld-Writethru, US
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Lawyers for men who allege they were sexually abused decades ago by an Ohio State team doctor should get to see the unredacted findings of a law firm that investigated the claims for the university, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The public version released last week blacked out details related to an old, confidential State Medical Board investigation involving Dr. Richard Strauss. But the judge overseeing related lawsuits against the school ruled that Ohio State must provide the full report to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the mediation process, for the attorneys’ eyes only.
Investigators concluded that Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students between 1979 and 1997, and that university officials knew about concerns but did little to stop him.
Strauss killed himself in 2005. No one has publicly defended him.
Strauss was let go as a team doctor and health center physician following complaints late in his Ohio State career, but he kept his tenured faculty position and retired in 1998 with emeritus status. Because he was never disciplined by the medical board, details of its 1996 investigation have remained confidential under state law.
Ohio State and the medical board have said they would like to make more of that information public . The board has voted to waive its confidentiality in that matter and said if other parties involved in the investigation do the same, the details related to them could then be shared.
Meanwhile, a panel created by Gov. Mike DeWine will review how the medical board handled that case decades ago and whether the board took appropriate action at the time. Those findings are due by Aug. 1.
The 15 members of the group were announced Friday. It will be led by state Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath and includes the county prosecutor in Columbus, a victim advocate from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the main lawyer for the Ohio Department of Health, and four representatives from law enforcement agencies.
The allegations against Strauss span nearly his entire Ohio State career. The allegations involved athletes from at least 16 sports and patients at the student health center and the physician’s off-campus clinic. In interviews and lawsuits, many of the accusers say Strauss’ inappropriate behavior, including groping patients, was common knowledge among athletes and around locker rooms for years.
University President Michael Drake, who started leading the school long after Strauss’ time, has apologized and said there was a “consistent institutional failure” at Ohio State back then.