- 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)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)
Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts
Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.
Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges
A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.
The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.
Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”
What Happened During the Parties?
Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.
The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.
In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.
O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.
Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.
“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.“