COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Men who allege decades-old sexual abuse by an Ohio State team doctor and are upset about how the university has handled their unsettled claims pushed for a stronger response Thursday, with several asking trustees how they’d feel if their own children had experienced such mistreatment.
Between live statements to the trustees’ virtual meeting and a video shared separately, about a dozen men recounted how they were hurt by the late Richard Strauss and by the university’s response since an ex-wrestler’s allegations led to a stunning investigation for the school in 2018.
A former hockey player said through tears that he’d been raped by Strauss and never finished his degree. Other alumni talked about feeling retraumatized, anxious or depressed over the past three years as they’ve fought for changes at the university and for greater compensation and acknowledgment they feel they’re owed.
Former wrestler Mike Schyck pointed out it was his third time pleading with the board.
“I just hope you guys do the right thing, and do what’s fair, and do it quickly,” he said. “I don’t want to be here for a fourth time.”
Reiterating the university’s previous apologies, new Ohio State President Kristina Johnson called Strauss’ behavior reprehensible and said it was unacceptable that school officials failed to stop him during his tenure, when students had raised concerns.
The investigation conducted for the school by a law firm found Strauss’ sexual misconduct under the guise of medical care spanned his two decades there and his work with various athletic teams, a student health center and his off-campus clinic.
Strauss died in 2005. No one has publicly defended him.
Nearly 400 men have sued the university over its failure to stop him, many of them alleging they were groped during exams. The university has pledged a ” monetary resolution ” for those Strauss harmed and has reached nearly $47 million in settlements for 185 of the plaintiffs.
Mediation efforts haven’t yielded a settlement with the remaining plaintiffs, some of whom have argued they deserve compensation more comparable to other major sexual abuse scandals in higher education, such as Michigan State’s $500 million settlement for the 500-plus female victims of imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar.
Though Ohio State officials won’t have discussions with the accusers who have pending lawsuits, Johnson told the speakers during Thursday’s meeting: “I want you to know that I’m listening.”
But Steve Snyder-Hill, one of the most vocal accusers, countered with a feeling that the men’s comments have fallen on deaf ears at their alma mater.
“I’m telling you: You’re not listening. You haven’t been listening. For years, you haven’t been listening,” he said. “Stop pretending to listen and hear these people crying out to you.”