Athletes describe abuse by Strauss


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

On paper, Richard Strauss was a well-regarded Ohio State University physician who examined young athletes for decades as a team doctor and sports-medicine researcher.

Some former athletes recall him differently: Locker-room voyeur. Serial groper. “Dr. Jelly Paws.”

In interviews with The Associated Press in recent weeks, seven former athletes and a former nursing student shared detailed allegations of sexual misconduct dating to the 1970s against the doctor, who killed himself in 2005 at age 67 and is only now under investigation.

The eight men, including three who didn’t want their names made public, say they want to see anyone who ignored concerns about Strauss held accountable and hope to make sure something similar doesn’t happen to others.

They described how Strauss fondled them during medical exams and ogled naked young men, sometimes showering among athletes multiple times a day for no apparent reason or perching himself on a stool to stare.

Some said Strauss groped them barehanded during physicals, had them drop their pants even while examining them for a cough or heartburn, and badgered students to go home with him.

Two of the athletes who spoke to the AP say Strauss wasn’t stopped even after they complained — one to a coach and another to a school physician.

Former wrestling team captain Dave Mulvin said he raised concerns in the late 1970s, when Strauss fondled him during an exam that Mulvin abruptly ended, telling the doctor his behavior was “weird.” Mulvin said he went to the student health center to finish the exam and complained about Strauss to another doctor, who shrugged it off.

Some athletes saw it as the price of getting medicine or treatment. Nick Nutter, an All-American wrestler in the 1990s, said he constantly did a calculation before deciding whether to see Strauss: “Is this injury bad enough that I’m going to get molested for it?”

Strauss described the fondling as just “doing his job,” said ex-wrestler Denyasha Yetts. Yetts said he complained about Strauss to his coach after being groped during three exams, and the coach, Russ Hellickson, told the doctor to stop such behavior.

Other wrestlers said Hellickson, who coached at Ohio State for two decades starting in 1986, expressed concerns to a Larkins Hall administrator about voyeurism at the recreation and training center, where they said Strauss and other older male faculty members and university employees were known to go to leer at athletes in the locker rooms, showers and sauna.

Hellickson said in a statement that he never ignored abuse of wrestlers. And former assistant coach Jim Jordan, now a powerful Republican congressman from Ohio, has insisted he was never aware of any abuse, a claim he repeated on Fox News Friday night.

“It’s false. I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any type of abuse,” Jordan said. “If I had been, I would have dealt with it.”

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