The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Ohio State University’s response to allegations of sexual abuse against former athletic doctor Richard Strauss.
The probe by the department’s Office for Civil Rights will examine whether Ohio State responded “promptly and equitably” to allegations by former students that Strauss touched athletes inappropriately during appointments and ogled them in a campus locker room, as well as claims that school officials knew or should have known about the alleged abuse, the school said.
Strauss, who killed himself in 2005, was employed by Ohio State from 1978 to 1998. He has been accused of sexually abusing student athletes in 14 sports, as well as patients at the campus health center.
A school official defended Ohio State’s response to the allegations, which were reported publicly in the spring, and said it welcomed regulators’ interest.
“We welcome the involvement and careful oversight of OCR and look forward to providing any information we can,” Gates Garrity-Rokous, OSU vice president and chief compliance officer, said in a statement.
“We responded promptly and appropriately to the allegations received in April about Dr. Strauss. We are confident in the independence and thoroughness of the investigation we launched then as well as our ongoing commitment to transparency,” Garrity-Rokous stated.
The Office for Civil Rights enforces Title IX, the law prohibiting sexual discrimination in federally funded education programs. OCR’s regional office in Cleveland will conduct the probe, Ohio State said.
“In light of recent allegations made by former students concerning sexual abuse by former athletic team doctor Richard Strauss, OCR initiated a directed investigation on Aug. 8, 2018,” Liz Hill, press secretary at the Department of Education, said in a statement.
“This new Title IX investigation will examine the university’s handling of reports of sex-based incidents involving Dr. Strauss, including allegations that university employees knew or should have known about the sexual misconduct and allowed the abuse to continue,” Hill stated.
Ohio State announced an independent investigation into Strauss’s tenure was underway in April. Law firm Perkins Coie is conducting the inquiry.
The controversy has ensnared conservative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), now a candidate for speaker of the House, who served as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1987 to 1995. Some former wrestlers have said Jordan knew or should have known about Strauss’s alleged misconduct. Jordan has consistently denied knowledge of any abuse.