Abuse victims to OSU leaders: ‘Are you going to let us down again?’

Three former Ohio State University students, who are among hundreds sexually abused by Dr. Richard Strauss, asked trustees on Thursday to “do the right thing.”

Over the course of two decades, Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male students and although administrators knew about the misconduct, it was not reported to law enforcement, according to a 232-page investigative report released by the university in May.

“It was brushed away and joked about so many times we felt what’s the point,” said Dan Ritchie, who left the OSU wrestling team in his junior year after being assaulted multiple times. “We were let down by this university before and ultimately it’s your decision how you proceed from here. So I leave you with this question: Are you going to let us down again?”

University trustees sat silent as Ritchie, Michael Schyck and Brian Garrett cried, vented and described how the abuse still haunts them today.

“Everyone is screaming at the top of the pile to do the right thing and we just want that to happen, and asking you for that to happen,” Schyck said. Garrett added, “It’s up to you. How long are you going to make us suffer?”

Related: Wrestling ref alleges he told Jim Jordan about sexual predator at OSU

Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Heminger said “we are dedicated to a fair outcome” and that the university is committed to a “monetary resolution.”

Between 1979 and 1997, Strauss worked at OSU as a team doctor, faculty member and physician at the student health center. He died by suicide in 2005 at age 67 in California.

Now the university is facing 14 lawsuits from former students who say they were fondled, groped, drugged, raped and otherwise abused by Strauss.

After the meeting, Schyck and Ritchie chafed at reporter questions about whether U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, knew about the sexual abuse when Jordan worked as an assistant wrestling coach. They insisted the case isn’t about Jordan, though Ritchie said “To be fair, I believe everybody knew what was going on to some degree.”

“As an adult, Jimmy makes his own choices and decisions on what he says. I can’t make that for him. So what he chose to say remembers or doesn’t remember, that’s on him,” Schyck said.

Jordan has denied knowledge of the abuse.

Last month, the university issued its annual campus crime report and included 1,429 instances of fondling and 47 rapes attributed to Strauss over a 20-year period. The incidents were included in the recent report because the university was made aware of them in 2018 and 2019.

Related: Wrestling ref alleges he told Jim Jordan about sexual predator at OSU

It is unclear what OSU’s financial exposure may be in the cases, though the university has notified its insurance carriers. In 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million into a fund for the victims of Dr. Larry Nasser, who was convicted on federal child pornography charges and state sexual assault charges.

Lobbyist Neil Clark, who represents some of the Strauss victims, said $500 million should be a starting point for OSU to put into a victims fund.

This marks the second time that Strauss victims have appealed to the board of trustees to take action.

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