A Message from President Drake: Strauss Investigation Update
The following email was sent to alumni and former student-athletes on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.
In May, the university released the findings of an independent investigation of Richard Strauss, a university-employed physician from 1978 to 1998. Strauss died in 2005. Alumni and former student-athletes played a vital role in the completion of this investigation, which found that Strauss committed acts of sexual abuse against at least 177 students during the time he was employed as a physician at the university. The report also concluded that university personnel at the time had knowledge of complaints and concerns about Strauss’ conduct as early as 1979 but failed to investigate or act meaningfully.
Strauss’ actions and the university’s inaction at the time were unacceptable. I want to reiterate our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse — and our gratitude for the strength and courage of all who shared their experiences.
I write today to inform you of several updates.
This afternoon, the university will release several previously redacted portions of the independent report related to the State Medical Board of Ohio’s investigatory file on Strauss.
Please know that nothing in the newly unredacted material compromises the anonymity of survivors. As before, the report contains explicit descriptions of sexual abuse.
In coordination with the issuance of a report from a working group convened by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the medical board has waived statutory privilege since the report’s release. This step allows Ohio State to share publicly the portions of the report referring to the medical board’s investigatory materials on Strauss. Consistent with remaining redactions in the medical board file, the names of witnesses are redacted to protect their anonymity.
As part of our commitment to transparency in this and all other matters, Ohio State is also sharing additional athletics documents that contain references to Strauss.
Again, nothing in these documents compromises the anonymity of survivors.
This past summer, after the release of the independent investigative report, the university’s Department of Athletics discovered these documents during a staff relocation. They were provided immediately to Perkins Coie, which determined their contents were either entirely duplicative of previously located university records or otherwise did not alter the findings of the Strauss report.
Additionally, we are sharing with the public our annual university campus crime report in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Per federal law, the crime report includes incidents in locations specified by the Clery Act in the year they were reported rather than the year in which they occurred. As a result, the 2018 report includes acts committed by Strauss during his employment at Ohio State decades ago. We will continue to keep the public informed of annual campus crime reports and wanted to share this year’s report with you.
Finally, Ohio State has convened its Task Force on Sexual Abuse to review recent cases and identify educational tools and best practices for fostering a culture of awareness and compliance in higher education. Central to the group’s charge is working with and hearing from survivors of sexual abuse.
We have notified survivors that these items related to the Strauss investigation would be made public today, and we have shared the materials with them.
We continue to be committed to supporting a better and safer future for all members of our university community. The university has implemented multiple additional safeguards since Strauss left Ohio State in 1998, including programs to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct and abuse. These efforts are detailed on the university’s Strauss investigation website along with support resources and updates.
As a reminder, the university will cover the cost of confidential, professionally certified counseling for survivors of Strauss’ abuse and their families. This counseling, available for as long as needed, is offered through Praesidium. No contact with the university is required. For more information, please visit https://website.praesidiuminc.com/wp/osu or call 888-961-9273.
Thank you once again for the ways you represent Ohio State. Preventing and responding to sexual misconduct is important to us all, and you play a vital role in the health and safety of our communities.
Michael V. Drake, MD