Accusers of now-deceased Ohio State athletic doctor Richard Strauss spoke to the university’s trustees on Friday, one day after an outside law firm updated trustees on the status of an independent investigation into Strauss.
Investigators say that 150 people have come forward with first-hand experiences of sexual misconduct by Strauss, who worked at Ohio State for about two decades. Seven of those men told their own stories of sexual abuse at Friday's meeting.
“Many of the victims here today are meeting for the first time,” said accuser Brian Garrett. “But we share a common bond in that we were all sexually assaulted by Dr. Richard Strauss, an Ohio State employee.”
Garrett says Strauss fondled him during a medical examination at the Student Health Center, where Strauss occasionally worked.
“I could not get the image of the predator’s face out of my head, him standing over me while he sexually assaulted me in that clinic," Garrett said.
Some of the accusers told similar stories under the condition of anonymity. Despite interacting with Strauss in his different positions at the university, over numerous years, the men’s stories were very similar.
“I was fondled for what felt like five or 10 minutes just in shock, frozen, people say they were frozen, I didn’t know what to do,” one accuser said. “It felt like everyone knew, and there was sort of a sense of hope in some way that something would be done.”
Steve Snyder-Hill says he reported his abuse the day after it happened, and the University sent a letter telling him they hadn’t received any other complaints. That has since been proven to be untrue.
“You will never understand what it feels like to be in that situation unless you’re there,” Snyder-Hill said. “And what I’m asking you guys to do today is to think what if we were your kids, and that we were subjected to that at a young age.”
The accusers were slated to only speak for 20 minutes, but the testimony went on for three-quarters of an hour.
The investigation into what Ohio State employees knew about Strauss’ conduct and whether they responded appropriately is on-going. Over 440 interviews have been conducted as part of the probe, which is being led by Seattle law firm Perkins Coie.
Garrett and dozens of other alumni have joined class-action lawsuits against Ohio State, claiming the university violated the federal Title IX law by ignoring reports of Strauss' abuse.