A former Ohio State University soccer player who now lives in Lorain County says he has spoken with investigators in connection with allegations of sexual abuse by a now-dead team doctor.
The former player, who was part of Ohio State men’s soccer team in the 1980s, said Dr. Richard Strauss physically examined him while he was a student, but he never thought much of his interactions with the doctor until a former teammate reached out to him about the investigation into sexual abuse allegations.
“My first reaction was this is just another big money grab,” the man said. “I said at this point in our lives we should be donating money to the university, not taking money from it. I compared it to the Chris Spielman thing when he sued the university for using his likeness.”
The man spoke with The Chronicle-Telegram on the condition of anonymity due to the nature of the allegations. The Chronicle typically does not publish the names of victims of sexual abuse.
After a little more thought, though, the man rethought his initial decision.
“A few things changed. I got to realize that I was naive,” he said. “I was 20-years-old, and while I was considered an adult, I trusted doctors. Here he was doing things for his own sexual gratification, or whatever.”
More than 100 former students have provided firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct by Strauss in an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie for Ohio State University. More than 200 former students and university employees have been confidentially interviewed by the independent investigators about allegations against Strauss involving male athletes from 14 sports, according to the university.
The allegations range from 1979 to 1997, during most of Strauss’ two decades on the faculty and medical staff.
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, who represents Elyria, Amherst and Oberlin as part of Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, used to coach wrestling at Ohio State and has been accused by some former athletes of knowing about the alleged abuse by Strauss but not saying anything. Jordan publicly has said he was never aware of abuse when he was an assistant coach from 1987 to 1995.
The former player from Lorain County said he was given two prostate exams at the age of 20 during physicals conducted by Strauss. He said he never though anything of it until later in his life.
“At the time, I thought he was really concerned about my health and that I could get cancer or whatever,” he said. “I wasn’t in medical school, and there was no internet at the time where you could just Google stuff like that. I was nave.”
The American Medical Association recommends men get prostate exams starting at the age of 50 if they are at average risk of prostate cancer and have at least a 10-year life expectancy.
When the Lorain County man turned 50, his doctor recommended he begin getting regular prostate exams.
“That got me to wondering why exactly Dr. Strauss had given me two prostate exams when I was in my early 20s,” he said. “I’d really never though much of it until then.”
The man also said he didn’t have much contact with Strauss other than physicals before soccer season began. They were usually given during one of the team’s practices before the start of the season, and six or seven players would have a physical done at a time, he said.
“I recall people making jokes about ‘Dr. Pervy’ or something, and we’d all kid about it and laugh,” he said. “I never really got the sense that anybody thought something was wrong.”
The former player said that during checks for hernias, Strauss’ hands seemed to “linger” longer than necessary, but he didn’t think much of it.
Earlier this week, investigators from Perkins Coie interviewed the man for about 55 minutes, where he related his experiences with Strauss. He said he’s not trying to get money from the university and also said he’s not part of any lawsuit against Ohio State.
“I’m not getting anything out of it, and I don’t know if I ever will,” he said. “Financially, I’m secure. At this point, all I provided the university was the information that I know so they could have a better background of what occurred.”
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