(Reuters) - More than 100 former students have told investigators they were victims of sexual misconduct by a now-deceased Ohio State University doctor employed by its athletic department and medical staff for nearly two decades, the university said on Friday.
New details about the investigation of the late Dr. Richard Strauss were made public days after five former varsity wrestlers sued Ohio State over allegations Strauss had sexually abused them and others and that the university was complicit in failing to take action against him.
The scandal has had implications for Ohio congressman, U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, whose tenure as an assistant wrestling coach at the university overlapped with Strauss’ time there. Jordan has been accused by several former student wrestlers of being told about molestation by the doctor but failing to intervene to stop it.
The Republican, considered by some to be a possible contender to succeed the retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, has denied knowing anything about abuse allegations at the time.
Strauss was a university staff physician during the 1970s, ‘80 and ‘90s for several varsity sports, the school’s medical center and student health clinic. He retired from the faculty in 1998 and committed suicide in 2005.
Allegations against him first surfaced in April when the university announced an investigation had been opened into the doctor in his former capacity as the Ohio State wrestling team physician.
Similar sex scandals in recent years have embroiled top officials at several major U.S. institutions of higher education, including Penn State University, Michigan State University and the University of Southern California.
A law firm assigned to conduct an independent inquiry on behalf of the Ohio state attorney general has interviewed more than 200 former students and staff believed to have had knowledge of the matter, the school said in an online update.
More than 100 ex-students interviewed reported “firsthand accounts” of being victimized by Strauss, the university said.
The allegations date from 1979 to 1997 from former athletes in 14 varsity sports and former patients of the student clinic, according to the school.
No mention was made of Jordan, or whether investigators found evidence that former or current university staff were aware of abuse but failed to report it. The university has previously said that question is part of the inquiry.
One of the two lawsuits said “rampant sexual abuse” was reported to Ohio State administrators and to the head of the athletic department” who “turned a blind eye” to the wrongdoing.
Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Grant McCool