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Civil Rights Office Opens Investigation Into Ohio State Over Richard Strauss

Ohio State University officials say the federal office that oversees enforcement of Title IX has opened an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against a now-dead former Ohio State doctor.

A statement from a university spokesperson says the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation based on the allegations against Richard Strauss made by former Ohio State students.

“The directed investigation will be conducted by the OCR Cleveland regional office and will examine whether the university is responding promptly and equitably to complaints and reports by former students, including allegations that employees knew or should have known about the sexual misconduct and allowed the abuse to continue,” the release said.

The statement also says “Due to the concern of re-traumatizing individuals who were affected and do not wish to revisit the experience, investigators are not contacting any former students who may have been examined by Strauss.

Instead, the private law firm handling the investigation, Perkins Coie, "is working with Ohio State to release regular updates to the public in order to empower others to determine whether they want to come forward.”

The National Women’s Law Center, in an August 1 letter, said that Ohio State should be investigated for potentially violating its Title IX obligations. The letter was addressed to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Kenneth Marcus of the Office of Civil Rights.

“Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, colleges and universities that are recipients of federal funding must respond to sexual harassment on their campus of which they know, or should know,” the letter reads. “This responsibility is triggered when responsible employees of the University, including coaches and assistant coaches of athletic teams, have knowledge about the sexual harassment.”

More than 100 former students reported first-hand accounts of misconduct by Strauss, who worked at the university from 1978-1998s. Lawsuits from over a dozen students claim that Ohio State administrators and athletic staff knew about but failed to act on reports of Strauss’ conduct.

Strauss died in 2005.

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