(Reuters) – More than 170 male students at Ohio State University claimed they were sexually abused by a now-deceased doctor and university officials had knowledge of the abuse but did little about it, a report released by the school on Friday said.
Richard Strauss was accused of abusing at least 177 male students when he worked as a physician for the athletic department and the student health center from 1978 to 1998, the report detailing the findings of a year-long independent investigation said.
The report also said school officials knew of the abusive treatment as early as 1979, but complaints were never elevated to the athletics or student health departments until 1996, when the school suspended and ultimately removed Strauss after a “very limited investigation” into a student’s claim that he fondled him during an exam.
School President Michael Drake apologized to the victims and said “the findings are shocking and painful to comprehend” in a statement announcing the release of the report.
“Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable — as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members,” he said.
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.
Ohio State in August said federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into how school officials responded to the allegations against Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.
Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis