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More than 100 former Ohio State University students have reported being victims of sexual misconduct by a former school physician over two decades ago, a university spokesman said Friday.
The statement was released as an update into the school’s investigation into allegations of Richard Strauss’ long-running abuse, mostly in the athletics program.
Ohio State opened the investigation in April, after former wrestlers came forward with allegations that Strauss had groped them during unnecessary medical examinations.
Ten wrestlers have told NBC News they had personal experiences with Strauss’s sexual misconduct, which they said included unwanted and unwarranted touching, and leering during exams and in the locker room. Strauss was employed by the university as the wrestling team’s doctor from the mid-1970s to 1997 and died by suicide in 2005.
As part of the investigation, the law firm Perkins Coie has interviewed more than 200 former students and staff and plan to speak with 100 more, the university said. The university also said investigators had been communicating with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
The reports of Strauss’ sexual misconduct have come from former male student-athletes across 14 sports, as well as from former patients of the university’s student clinic.
The former students alleging sexual misconduct have come forward in response to a call from the university. Investigators said they were not reaching out to prospective victims because of a concern for people who may be traumatized and not wish to re-live their experience by taking part in an investigation.
Strauss’s relatives have said they were “shocked and saddened to hear the allegations of misconduct” against him.
The update comes on the heels of a pair of federal class-action lawsuits against the school filed by five former wrestlers this week in Ohio’s Southern District court, claiming administrators knew of Strauss’s alleged serial sexual misconduct and did nothing to protect students from it.
One of the lawsuits specifically mentions Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the conservative lawmaker and assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jordan, who met this week with the investigators at Perkins Coie, has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of Strauss’s abuse. Jordan was not named as a defendant in either suit.
Six former wrestlers have spoken to NBC News, alleging Jordan knew or must have known about Strauss’s abuse. Dunyasha Yetts, who wrestled for Ohio State in the early 1990s, said he had reported the abuse directly to Jordan. Former wrestler Shawn Dailey corroborated his account.
Other wrestlers told NBC News Jordan must have known of the abuse because Strauss’s misconduct was often discussed in the locker room. Jordan has characterized allegations that he did know about Strauss as being politically motivated.