The investigation into former Ohio State University Dr. Richard Strauss is now under federal scrutiny. The United States Department of Education launched an investigation Thursday into how OSU is responding to complaints against the former team and health center doctor.
The Office for Civil Rights wants to ensure officials are â€œresponding promptly and equitablyâ€ to reports by former students. They are investigating whether the university knew, or should have known, about sexual misconduct by Strauss, but failed to act. That would be a Title IX violation.
Ohio State chief compliance officer Gates Garrity-Rokous said â€œwe welcome the involvement and careful oversight of OCR.â€
Rokous said â€œwe responded promptly and appropriately to the allegations received in April about Dr. Strauss. We are confident in the independence and thoroughness of the investigation we launched then as well as our ongoing commitment to transparency.â€
Timothy Mahler, an attorney with the Rourke-Blumenthal firm said in order to prove a Title IX violation, you have to meet two significant elements of the claim. â€œYou have to prove that the school had actual notice of the conduct. And you have to prove that the school had acted deliberately indifferent once they had information about the conduct.â€
Mahler said universities should take Title IX accusations seriously.
â€œThe ramifications for a violation, at the most severe is the loss of federal funding which for Ohio State could effect grants and subsidies they receive. And there can be other penalties including exposing the university to civil lawsuits,â€ said Mahler.
â€œI would imagine that Ohio State views this as very significant.
Number one, I think that we would all want to believe that OSU wants to make sure these victims are protected, and I think Ohio State will want to stand up and do the right thing,â€ said Mahler. â€œI think it is in the best interest of Ohio State, I think it is in the best interest of the victims and I think it is in the best interest of finding the truth.â€
Brian Garrett, who was a nursing student at OSU and says he was sexually abused by Strauss said the investigation is excellent news.
â€œThe U.S. Department of Education is going to investigate Ohio State to hold them accountable. In my opinion, the Chief Compliance Officerâ€™s statement gives the impression that Ohio State may try to escape responsibility for past systemic failures.â€
Lawyers for Stephen Snyder Hill, Scott Elliot Smith and Jack Landskroner said they â€œhave been anxiously awaiting Ohio Stateâ€™s response to the claims made by those of us who were marginalized by OSU when we tried to put an end to Dr. Straussâ€™s sexual abuse of students. Hopefully this will begin the process leading to accountability.â€
The Columbus law firm of Carpenter Lipps and Leland LLP has been retained by Ohio State to handle litigation concerning three lawsuits filed recently against the university by former students. OSUâ€™s handling of the litigation is separate from the ongoing â€œindependentâ€ investigation that is being conducted by Perkins Coie of Seattle.