Task Force Role
The university’s Task Force on Sexual Abuse was convened to review recent sexual abuse cases and identify educational tools and best practices for fostering a culture of awareness and compliance in higher education. The formation of the task force was announced following the university’s release of the independent investigative report. The task force used information detailed in the Strauss report and other sources to inform a safer future.
Specifically, the task force was charged with:
- Compiling a background summary of known instances of sexual abuse that have occurred at institutions of higher education, with particular emphasis on those that have become known within the last 10 years
- Distilling and categorizing common elements or themes that emerge from the historical summary, focusing specifically on identifying and understanding the particular challenges and cultural barriers that may exist in college departments of athletics or in the clinical medical enterprise that could affect sexual abuse reporting
- Identifying educational tools and practices for enhancing a culture of awareness and compliance
- Identifying best practices focused on assisting reporting and developing pathways to action on college campuses
- Identifying best practices regarding sustainable mechanisms for support and recovery
The task force partnered with survivors of sexual abuse to further inform and advance its work — and engaged with survivor-focused organizations such as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and others.
On Nov. 5, Ohio State released the task force’s report. The task force identified a set of themes for the crucial work of assisting reporting of misconduct, developing pathways to action on college campuses, enhancing a culture of compliance, and establishing sustainable mechanisms for survivor support and recovery. These themes are outlined in the report. The task force also reviewed public reports and identified 31 higher education sexual abuse cases involving more than one victim that became known to the public in the past decade. The cases themselves dated as far back as the 1940s. The purpose of this review was to identify and understand common elements and patterns in those cases, with particular, but not exclusive, attention to challenges and cultural barriers in departments of athletics or clinical medical enterprises that could affect sexual abuse reporting.
The task force was chaired by Alan Michaels, JD, professor and dean emeritus of Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law. Additional members included:
Doctoral student in social work with research interests in gender-based violence, campus sexual assault, intimate partner violence and sex trafficking, Ohio State
Board member, U.S. Center for SafeSport
Esther Choo, MD, MPH
Associate professor of emergency medicine whose research interests include violence, women’s health and gender medicine, Oregon Health & Science University
Christine Gidycz, PhD
Professor emerita of psychology focusing on sexual assault prevention and risk reduction programs, Ohio University
Katherine Lasher, JD
Associate vice president for institutional equity, Ohio State
Deputy director of athletics overseeing sport administration, sport performance, compliance and human resources, Ohio State
Vincent Roscigno, PhD
Professor of sociology focusing on inequality, culture and dynamics of workplace bullying and abuse, Ohio State
Chief of police, The Ohio State University Police Division
Deborah Tuerkheimer, JD
Professor focusing on feminist legal theory and criminal law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Leadership and Committees
The Ohio State University is a large and diverse institution that benefits from the insight and engagement of a variety of stakeholders.