More accusers say Ohio State team doctor abused them
Three new accusers came forward Friday saying they were sexually assaulted by a doctor who treated Ohio State University student athletes.
Brian Garrett told CNN that the late Richard Strauss touched him inappropriately while Garrett was working in the physician’s off-campus clinic in 1996, and that Strauss asked him to watch while he abused one of his patients.
He’s the latest to say Strauss, who died in 2005, sexually abused him under the guise of a medical examination.
According to Garrett, Strauss assaulted him during an examination after Garrett complained about heartburn.
A former OSU student wrestler, Mike DiSabato, previously came forward to allege he was abused by Strauss, who treated members of the school’s athletic teams.
In addition to DiSabato, two former OSU wrestlers told CNN Friday they were abused by Strauss while they were student athletes, though one said he didn’t consider it abuse at the time.
The allegations have prompted an investigation by OSU, which the school announced in April. The school has hired a law firm, Perkins Coie, to look into the claims made by former male athletes on 14 sports teams. More than 150 people have been interviewed in the course of the investigation, which is ongoing, according to Perkins Coie.
DiSabato has also said that US Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio knew about the alleged abuse. Jordan has denied knowing about allegations of sexual abuse, and has said he will cooperate with investigators.
Days after claims of sexual misconduct by Strauss first surfaced, his family released a statement saying it was “shocked and saddened” by the allegations, and that members of the family had been in contact with Perkins Coie investigators.
“Along with the alleged victims, our family seeks the truth and is … cooperating with The Ohio State University’s independent investigation,” the statement said.
‘Like he wanted me to be his voyeur’
In an interview, Garrett told CNN he was briefly employed by Strauss to work at his off-campus clinic in 1996, after he finished his undergraduate studies and before he became a graduate nursing student at OSU. Garrett was recruited for the part-time position to answer phones and fill out paperwork.
One day, Strauss asked Garrett to watch him examine a patient, Garrett said. It was “almost like he wanted me to be his voyeur,” he said.
Strauss “played with the guy’s penis” until the patient ejaculated, Garrett said. The patient was embarrassed, and Strauss asked Garrett to get a tissue to clean up.
Later, after the patient left, Strauss asked Garrett whether he was having any medical issues, to which Garrett responded that he had some heartburn.
Garrett says Strauss asked him to lie down for an examination and pressed on his stomach a few times before he pulled down Garrett’s pants and fondled him.
Strauss then “played with me for 5 or 10 minutes, trying to see if I would get aroused,” Garrett told CNN.
Afterward, he left work and later told his friends he wouldn’t be returning to work at the clinic.
Garrett never told anyone about his experience, he said, and never knew any of the athletes who have since come forward to accuse Strauss of abuse. He believed it could have been an isolated incident, he said.
He decided to come forward after seeing news reports about OSU asking alleged victims of Strauss to come forward, he said.
Former wrestlers claim they were abused
Mike Alf, an OSU wrestler from 1988 to 1992, said he didn’t consider Strauss’ behavior as abuse at the time but now he considers himself a victim.
The wrestling team often joked about the physician’s “weird, inappropriate” behavior, he added, but said Jordan was not aware of what was going on.
“I know Jim Jordan,” Alf said. “He would do anything to protect us.”
Others have also said Strauss touched them inappropriately for medical examinations that didn’t appear to call for it. DiSabato, the wrestler, said in a video produced last month that it was a running joke that no matter what ailment a person asked Strauss to look at, the doctor would always examine his genitals.
Another former OSU athlete, who asked not to be named, told CNN he was sexually assaulted by Strauss in the late 1980s but never told Jordan, who was one of his coaches at the time.
He described Jordan as a “class act” and said he “is not the problem, OSU is the problem.”