Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuits Target Ohio State and Rep. Jim Jordan

Over 100 former Ohio State students have reported firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct committed by Richard Strauss, a former team doctor at the school from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Strauss's time at the university overlapped with that of current Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1987 to 1995. Former wrestlers claim Jordan, founder of the powerful, far-right congressional Freedom Caucus, was aware of the abuse and did nothing to stop it.

Last week, five former wrestlers filed two class-action lawsuits against Ohio State for failing to act after learning of alleged complaints about Strauss' behavior more than 20 years ago, one of which names Jim Jordan.

Not Medically Necessary

Jordan claims he never saw or heard any reports of misconduct and has attacked some of the accusers who have spoken out against him. Strauss killed himself in 2005. "On one occasion," according to the lawsuit, "Plaintiff suffered a rib injury while wrestling and made an appointment to see Dr. Strauss for treatment. Dr. Strauss instructed Plaintiff to drop his pants so he could examine Plaintiff's scrotum for a hernia. Plaintiff was young and believed that Dr. Strauss' actions were medically necessary, but felt violated and helpless."

The lawsuit also claims Strauss took photographs of the men he asked to disrobe, and describes how he "regularly touched students' genitals and breast areas, often at the same time, regularly measured students' scrotums, all for the purpose of his own sexual arousal and gratification, and for no legitimate medical purpose and for no other reason than to satisfy his own sexual desires."

Who Knew What, and When?

Specifically to Jordan, the lawsuit alleges:

Dunyasha Yetts, an OSU wrestler in 1993 and 1994, also publicly stated he informed Jordan of the abuse but that nothing was done other than Jordan and coach Russ Hellickson having a talk with Strauss after he allegedly pulled down Yetts' wrestling shorts when he sought treatment for a thumb injury.

Hellickson has also denied knowledge of Strauss's abuse, but told USA Today he confronted the doctor and told him that he was making the athletes "uncomfortable" by showering with them. When Strauss responded that the coach also showered with athletes, Hellickson replied "'Not for an hour, Doc.'"

The class action lawsuits could include thousands of student-athletes across 14 sports who sought treatment from Strauss over two decades at the school.

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