- 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)
Was an Iowa Official Asked to Resign Over His Love of Tupac? He Says He Doubts It
- Jerry Foxhoven, the former director of Iowa’s Department of Human Services, was ordered to resign from his job days after sending a mass email to all 4,300 employees encouraging them to celebrate Tupac’s birthday.
- AP news obtained 350 pages of emails between Foxhoven and staff, which included quotes, lyrics, or other references to the rapper that he sent in hopes of uplifting his staff.
- The messages were mostly met with praise, but at least one staff member complained.
- Foxhoven was abruptly asked to resign without an explanation other than the office wanting to move “in a new direction,” but he says he doesn’t believe his love of Tupac was the reason for the decision.
Foxhoven Asked to Resign
A former Iowa official, who many believe was fired over his love of Tupac Shakur, says he thinks his firing had nothing to do with his support of the rapper.
Jerry Foxhoven, the former director of Iowa’s Department of Human Services, was ordered to resign from his job days after he sent a mass email to employees celebrating Tupac.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press issued a report that said it had obtained emails that showed Foxhoven routinely sent messages to employees about Tupac. According to AP News, the agency released 350 pages of email with the words “Tupac” or “2Pac” in then, which were sent to and from Foxhoven’s account during is two-years on the job.
The mass email in question was sent on June 14 and was sent to all 4,300 agent employees. In it, Foxhoven reminded employees that Father’s day was just a few days away and coincided with Tupac’s birthday. He encouraged staff to celebrate by listening to one of his songs and included what he said was an “inspiration quote” from the artist: “Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead.”
Along with celebrating the rapper’s birthday, Foxhoven also noted that he was celebrating his two-year anniversary as director and thanked the staff for their work.
The following workday, Governor Kim Reynolds’ chief of staff asked him to resign.
Here is the email 66 year old Jerry Foxhoven sent to his staff, the day he was fired.— Tim Mak (@timkmak) July 17, 2019
He notes 2Pac’s bday is also Father’s day
“Hard to believe he has been gone for almost 23 years”
By all accounts, a kind email pic.twitter.com/ohSxSVpzJL
Longrunning Love For Tupac
Foxhoven says he had been a huge Tupac fan since the ‘90s. “I’m a 66-year-old white guy from the Midwest who likes rap music, who likes Tupac!” he told NPR.
Foxhoven hosted weekly “Tupac Fridays” to play his music in the office and even celebrated his 65th birthday with Tupac-themed cookies, including ones decorated with the words “Thug Life.”
OMG he had a birthday party and his staff, knowing his love for tupac, brought him tupac themed baked goods 😭 pic.twitter.com/T3Fk76ASo3— Tim Mak (@timkmak) July 17, 2019
However, he was also known to quote other celebrities in holiday-themed messages. In other emails, Foxhoven marked the anniversary of the rapper’s death and sent a Valentine’s day message that shared lyrics and quotes about love.
Jerry celebrates Valentine’s Day with, you guessed it: more Tupac quotes for his 4,000 staff at the Iowa Department of Human Services pic.twitter.com/Z208dgYmjT— Tim Mak (@timkmak) July 17, 2019
Foxhoven also allegedly told employees that Tupac’s lyrics inspired him to improve the company’s culture, specifically pointing to lyrics like “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.”
Many praised Foxhoven for using his love of hip hop music to lift up the workplace, “I love your 2Pac messages,” one manager wrote June 14. “And the fact that you still send them (despite the haters) makes me appreciate them even more.”
“You are such a breath of fresh air Jerry!” another staff member wrote. “Thanks for all you do, to lift us up and help us feel better about what we do than we have felt in a long time!”
However, not everyone was a fan of the messages. According to AP News, at least one person complaining to lawmakers last year about them.
Motivation For Firing Unclear
Foxhoven’s departure comes after numerous controversies at the agency including difficult contract negotiations with companies that run the Medicaid program, a trial concerning alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile home, and an increase in deaths at a center for the disabled.
While it hasn’t been confirmed that Foxhoven was pushed to leave over various Tupac messages, the timing is making many suspicious. Employees have been speculating that the two must be linked, thought Foxhoven has said they might not be.
In a text message to AP News, he said believed that the governor had made the decision to “go in a different direction” before he sent his mass email. He said he wasn’t given a reason for the resignation request, but added that he doubted Tupac was a factor.
“I think it’s a coincidence,” Foxhoven told The New York Times in a phone interview, adding that the governor’s office had requested a meeting with him days before he sent the email.
“I always try to assume the best of everybody, and I can’t imagine that [the governor] would base her decision on the Tupac incident,” he told NPR. “If this is the reason, I’m really disappointed.”
However, Foxhoven also told NPR that his tenure at the Department of Human Services ended without warning or a chance for an orderly transition. He said he was not even granted a meeting with Reynolds and added that the governor’s chief of staff confiscated his cellphone and ID cards on the spot, ordering him not to return to his office.
Foxhoven also said that many directors do not serve long terms and said that his two-year tenure meant that he had outlasted many of his predecessors. Foxhoven, who had previously worked as a lawyer, professor, and children’s rights advocate, told the Times that he believed Reynolds was simply filling posts with “more political people.”
Pat Garrett, a spokesperson for the governor, told the AP: “As the governor has said, a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven and now Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction.”
According to the AP: “The governor’s office has refused to elaborate on those factors, despite an Iowa law that requires state agencies to release the “documented reasons and rationale” when employees resign instead of being terminated.”
For now, Gerd W. Clabaugh, the director of the Department of Public Health, will serve as interim director of human services.
As for Foxhoven, he told NPR that he was glad his emails are making headlines because it allows for discussions about stereotypes and music. He then noted being especially upset by a recent story about a 17-year-old teen in Arizona who was fatally stabbed by a man who said the victim’s rap music made him feel “unsafe.”
“It’s important for us to break down those stereotypes: if you listen to rap music, you’re a criminal or dangerous. It’s not true at all,” he said., adding that he hoped his situation could lead to “having open discussions about race and what we have in common, instead of what separates us.”
See what others are saying: (AP News) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Bill Pickett to Lil Nas X: The Untold Story of Black Cowboys…
Cowboys are the ultimate Americana. They are an image ingrained in our culture and ever-present in film and television throughout the years. There are old western movies starring John Wayne, the classic TV show The Lone Ranger, and famous outlaws like Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy. What you may not know, however, is some of these classic images have actually whitewashed the real history of cowboys in the American West.
Because while most of our classic references of cowboys are traditionally white men, many cowboys weren’t white. Historians estimate one in four cowboys in the wild west were black. This is the untold story of black cowboys in the American West.
Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad Discriminated Against Openly Gay Official, Jury Finds
- On Monday, an eight-person jury in Polk County, Iowa found that former governor, Terry Branstad, discriminated against a state official because of his sexual orientation.
- The former official, Chris Godfrey, filed the lawsuit against Branstad as well as other officials in the state of Iowa in January 2012.
- After seven years, the case finally went to trial in June 2019 and ended six weeks later with the jury awarding Godfrey $1.5 million for emotional distress.
- Branstad resigned as Governor in May 2017, after he was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to China, a role he still holds.
A jury in Iowa awarded former state official Chris Godfrey $1.5 million after they determined that he had been discriminated against for his sexual orientation by the governor at the time, Terry Branstad.
Godfrey, who was Iowa’s commissioner of workers’ compensation, filed a lawsuit against Branstad, the state of Iowa, and other state officials in January 2012. Court records show that after seven years, the case finally went to trial in June 2019 and ended six weeks later with the decision to award Godfrey.
The former state official was awarded $1 million for being denied his constitutional due process rights and another $500,000 for the discrimination and retaliation he faced.
How This Happened
Godfrey was appointed Iowa’s workers’ compensation commissioner in 2006 and was reappointed just before Terry Branstad became Iowa’s governor in 2011. Godfrey says that once Branstad came into office, he asked Godfrey to resign from his role. The state official refused and as a result, his salary was cut by almost $40,000.
In Iowa, a commissioner holds their position for 6 years to protect it from partisan politics. However, the governor is able to ask a commissioner to step down from their role and if that request is refused, the governor can reduce the commissioner’s pay. According to local reports, Godfrey was one of 29 appointees Branstad asked to resign when he came into office.
Throughout the lawsuit, Branstad insisted he did not know Godfrey’s sexual orientation and asked him to resign due to concerns that businesses had.
However as the case continued, Branstad later admitted that Godfrey had only received positive reviews.
When the lawsuit went to trial in June 2019, Godfrey’s lawyer argued that he was shunned by Branstad’s office because he was the only openly gay man working as an executive at the time. The attorney noted specific examples, like how Godfrey was not invited to a retreat for Branstad’s department heads and executive staff.
In addition to Godfrey, other officials in Iowa have spoken out about Branstad, like current Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy.
During the trial, McCoy testified that Branstad’s administration was a “men’s club,” and added that “being gay in 2011 through 2015 was not an easy thing and [Godfrey] was definitely experiencing discrimination.”
As for Godfrey, he explained that the lawsuit for him was about getting justice. “After I had been asked to resign twice, after my pay was slashed, I felt obviously personally attacked, I needed justice,” he told the court.
What happened to Branstad?
As for the former governor, in December 2016 he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China by President Donald Trump. Branstad was later confirmed in May 2017, after a vote 82 to 13, and he resigned as governor two days later.
According to The Economist, Branstad and China’s ambassador are “old friends,” which is considered a great compliment in Chinese culture. The two met in 1985 during Branstad’s first term as Iowa’s governor. The article notes that in 2015, Iowa’s agricultural exports to China made up $1.4 billion of the $2.3 billion exported from the U.S.