The lack of national media attention surrounding this is problematic.
This isn’t a case of déjà vu.
It’s just that yet another Big Ten school is dealing with the fallout of having a white male serial sexual abuser on staff for years, while everyone who knew about it turned a blind eye to it for decades.
First there was Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, then came Larry Nassar at Michigan State, and now the world is sure to learn a lot more about Ohio State’s Dr. Richard Strauss, a man who committed suicide in 2005 and sexually abused at least 177 male students, according to a report that was released last week.
“It was known he was seeing these athletes and there were issues,” Dayton attorney Michael Wright recently told the Associated Press. Wright is getting ready to drop a lawsuit on OSU as he’s representing over 50 former athletes who claim they were sexually abused by Strauss.
“Clearly they had good relationships with the university, and they believe the university will either retaliate or significantly distance themselves from these athletes,” Wright explained.
According to reports, the abuse from Strauss’ went on from 1979-1997 and took place at multiple locations like the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Strauss’ off-campus clinic, and his home. Apparently, Strauss would have his victims strip naked and grope them as part of his treatment for ailments and injuries, kind of similar to Nassar’s playbook.
It’s so bad that a former nursing student of Strauss’, who witnessed the abuse, named Brian Garrett believes that the victim count could be higher than Nassar’s, whose total stood at a minimum of 250 people.
The abuse itself is sickening, but the fact that this was allowed to happen at three different schools in the same conference is repulsive.
Where is the NCAA? Why hasn’t the Big Ten Conference been more proactive?
And don’t tell me that nothing can be done in retrospect because, for something like this to keep happening, it means that people in power knew about it and didn’t say anything, and I have a strong inclination that some of those people are still employed by some of these schools.
On Monday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered a review of the state’s medical board’s handling of his case from back in the day. He also signed an executive order to create a group to review the case and the report.
“The question we’re faced with is: Did the State Medical Board of Ohio take appropriate action regarding Richard Strauss?” said DeWine.
The governor also called for lawmakers to lift the statute of limitations on rape charges, as a new house bill in Ohio is trying to waive the time limits for Strauss’ victims.
“I haven’t slept much in a year, and all the other victims are the same,” Garrett told the Associated Press. “My work life’s been affected, my personal life’s been affected. I am done; I am ready to move on. This is a good step, and I would love to see Gov. DeWine get the legislators to put through our House bill and sign off on it.”
Unlike what took place in Pennsylvania and Michigan, there seems to be more of a call to action from political figures in Ohio. But just like in the situations with Penn State and Michigan State, the media attention from the diligence of journalists is what made these stories national, making them impossible to be ignored.
With Sandusky, it was young boys.
With Nassar, it was hundreds of young girls, and some boys, too.
And with Strauss, the conversation will focus on the abuse that college-aged young men had to endure.
Unfortunately, some will take one look at the age difference and assume Ohio State’s situation isn’t as bad as Penn State and Michigan State’s because theirs involved children.
But to that, I say, sexual abuse is sexual abuse, regardless of age or sex.
Which is why we should all be paying attention to what’s happening at Ohio State unless we want this to keep happening. Because turning a blind eye to situations like this are how we got here in the first place.