- An investigation from Ohio State University says that a former university physician abused 177 male students while working at the school for two decades.
- The report also alleges that several staff members at the school knew about this misconduct, but did nothing to stop it.
- The physician stopped working at the school in 1998 and committed suicide in 2005.
- Lawsuits regarding the case are set to be mediated next month.
What We Learned From the Investigation
According to an investigation at Ohio State University, a doctor on campus abused 177 male students over the course of two decades and staff at the school knew about it.
Dr. Richard Strauss was a University Physician at the school from 1978 to 1998. During the majority of his time working in this role, he used his position to sexually abuse students, mainly while working with the Athletics Department as a doctor for several teams. Strauss died of suicide in 2005.
The redacted investigation report runs 182 pages long. Ohio State University, along with law firm Perkins Coie, interviewed 520 people as they investigated Strauss’ misconduct.
According to the report, the acts of abuse ranged from “fondling to the point of erection or ejaculation” to asking students to “strip completely naked” or “probing questions about a student-patient’s sexual practices.”
“With rare exception, we found the survivor accounts concerning their experience with Strauss to be both highly credible and cross-corroborative,” the report reads. “Regardless of whether survivors attended OSU in the late 1970s or in the early 1990s, or whether they were student-athletes on the football team or non-athlete students treated by Strauss in the Student Health Center, their descriptions of Strass’ conduct were remarkably similar.”
According to the accusers who have come forward, at least 20 staff members at Ohio State were aware of the misconduct as it was happening. The investigation said that faculty at the University knew about Strauss’ behavior as early as 1979. Reports during the majority of his career at the school stayed within either the Athletics Department, or the Department of Student Health, however, and were treated as an open secret.
According to the report, investigators found that the stories coming from survivors were not only credible, but shared a lot in common.
The abuse students were experiencing was not known to higher offices at the school until 1996. The school allegedly went through a limited investigation of his misconduct then and suspended him from both the Athletics and Student Health Department. His “status as a tenured faculty member remained unaffected.”
The investigation also found that during his suspension from those departments, he opened a private, off-campus, men’s clinic. There, he continued to abuse students.
During this time, he also tried to protest his removal from Athletics and Student Health. In October of 1997, the school told him they would not reinstate him to those areas. He retired five months later.
Ohio State’s president, Michael Drake, who has been in the position since 2014, released a statement apologizing to the victims of the school’s former long-time employee.
“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’s abuse,” he said. “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.”
How Athletes Spoke Out
Accusations against Strauss came out in 2018. Former members of the school’s wrestling team spoke out, saying they felt urged to do so following the trial of Larry Nassar.
Nassar was found guilty of sexual misconduct after over 250 women and girls accused him of abusing them while he was a doctor at Michigan State University. Nassar worked with the gymnastics team at the school. Olympic athletes like Ally Raisman lead the fight against him.
Some of the athletes say that seeing these girls speak out against Nassar inspired them to tell their stories. Nick Nutter, a former wrestler in Ohio, told the New York Times that he had buried the abuse he experienced, but Nassar’s trial “woke up the beast.”
“He’s a doctor, I’m sure he’s got a reason to be doing it,” Nutter would tell himself at the time.
Steve Snyder-Hill, another former wrestler, reported Strauss’ abuse to the school in the ‘90s. He admitted that it was hard to speak about due to the stigmas surrounding sexual abuse, especially when it comes to men.
“Society teaches you it’s embarrassing to talk about,” Snyder-Hill told the Times. “I think it has everything to do with power. Someone has power over you, and it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”
Rep. Jim Jordan Speak Out
One of the school’s employees at the time was Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who now represents the state of Ohio in Congress. Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994.
Some of the victims who came forward claim that Jordan knew of Strauss’ behavior, but Jordan has consistently denied this. The report never mentions Jordan by name. He claims that the report clears him and proves he never had any knowledge.
“But it confirms everything I said,” he told reporters. “If we’d have known about it, we’d have reported it. It confirms everything I’ve said before. I didn’t know about anything. If I would’ve, I’d have done something.”
Ohio State is currently facing two federal lawsuits stemming from this case. They are scheduled to be settled in mediation next month.
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Politico) (Cleveland.com)
New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns
- The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
- The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
- The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.
CDC Issues Warning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus.
The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.
Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.
Mitigating Spread of Variant
“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”
The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.
“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.
“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)
Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)
- Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
- By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
- Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.
Rick Snyder Charges
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.
The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.
He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.
The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.
Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.
His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.
8 Others Charged
Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.
Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:
- Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
- Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services.
- Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
- Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
- Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
- Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.
Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.
At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.
It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)
Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack
- At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.
- Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
- Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive
At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.
Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus.
On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one.
Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested.
More Cases Follow
Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions.
“Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote.
“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added.
“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown.
“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.
Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks.
Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.