COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A committee of Ohio State University trustees voted Thursday to revoke the emeritus status of a team doctor found to have sexually abused young men throughout his two decades there.
The full board of trustees could vote Friday on canceling the mark of distinguished service for Richard Strauss, who died in 2005. It would be a symbolic rebuke, removing only an honorary label.
“While we cannot erase what Strauss did, today we’re asking the committee to the correct the record in terms of his faculty status,” Provost Bruce McPheron said. Ohio State has never stripped someone of emeritus status, he said.
University President Michael Drake told the trustees’ Academic Affairs and Student Life committee that it’s an “immediate and necessary step” in the wake of an investigation over the past year that concluded the doctor sexually abused at least 177 male students from 1979 to 1997.
Those young men included athletes from a variety of sports and patients at the student health center and his off-campus medical office. The law firm hired to investigate the allegations for Ohio State also found that university officials heard about Strauss’ behavior during his tenure but did little to intervene back then.
Strauss retired in 1998. No one has publicly defended him. In a statement after the investigation report was released, Strauss’ family offered condolences to the abuse survivors and said it was heartbreaking to read about their suffering.
The university continues to review the report and take appropriate action, Drake said.
The State Medical Board had a confidential investigation involving Strauss near the end of his Ohio State career but never disciplined him. A state panel tasked with reviewing the handling of that old case began its work Thursday, and its report is due by Aug. 1.
Dozens of the men who say they were abused by Strauss are plaintiffs in four federal lawsuits against the university that allege officials knew concerns about the physician’s behavior and turned a blind eye to it for years. Some of those lawsuits have been sent to mediation in an effort to resolve them.
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This story has been updated to correct McPheron’s quote to “… correct the record in terms of his faculty status” instead of “… correct the record regarding his status.”