Lawmakers may open window for lawsuits against OSU in doctor abuse case

Men who say they were sexually abused by Dr. Richard Strauss at Ohio State University are pushing for a law change that would open the window for them to sue the university for damages.

State Rep. Brett Hillyer, R-Ulrichsville, is sponsoring House Bill 249, which is tailored specifically to the OSU sex abuse case. Without the change, pending litigation could be dismissed because the alleged abuse “during the terror and reign of Dr. Strauss” happened outside the statute of limitations, Hillyer said.

Three former students — nurse Brian Garrett, hockey player Roger Beedon and wrestler Mike Schyck — struggled to maintain their composure Tuesday when recounting being abused by Strauss. They appeared with Hillyer for a Statehouse press conference.

It is the latest development in a sex abuse scandal that began when Strauss was first hired in 1979 until his retirement in 1998. Investigators found 177 first-hand, credible accounts from former students who had been fondled, groped or harassed by Strauss. Investigators also reported that complaints and rumors about Strauss’ misconduct went largely ignored for 17 years.

Related: Investigation finds OSU doctor sexually abused 177 students

Strauss showered with Ohio State University athletes, soaping himself while ogling them, and he performed lengthy genital examinations, even if a male student was being seen for a head cold or injured finger.

According to the 232-page investigative report: 22 coaches, 18 student athletic trainers, and five team physicians across multiple sports confirmed they were aware of rumors or complaints about Strauss’ misconduct. At the Student Health Center, the director assigned “chaperones” to keep an eye on Strauss in the exam rooms.

Related: 37 former OSU student-athletes sue over doctor sex abuse case

Meanwhile, current Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and former AGs Richard Cordray, Nancy Rogers, Jim Petro, Betty Montgomery and Lee Fisher sent a letter to legislative leaders, urging them to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape, which is currently 20 years. Former AG Marc Dann, who resigned from office under a cloud, said he was not asked to sign the letter but supports the idea.

Gov. Mike DeWine, who served eight years as AG, also called on lawmakers to wipe out the statute of limitations on rape.

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