What went wrong for so long at OSU?
Dr. Jelly Paws,” some Ohio State University athletes called him. It was a reference to the late Dr. Richard Strauss’ habit of groping their genitals and engaging in other forms of sexual abuse.
Dozens of OSU officials, both inside the athletic department and in university administration, were aware of complaints about Strauss. Yet the did nothing to stop him.
How is that possible? Strauss, who took his own life in 2005, sexually abused at least 177 male students at OSU from the 1970s through the 1990s, a report released by the university concludes. The investigation was conducted by an outside firm.
“We should all be disgusted” at Strauss’ actions, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday. He added that he has formed a working group to look at an unredacted copy of the report — some information in the version released publicly was blacked out — to learn more concerning who knew of Strauss’ misbehavior while he was a doctor for some OSU athletic teams.
DeWine also called for the state statute of limitations on rape to be revoked. Current law sets it at 20-25 years, depending on circumstances of the assault.
The statute of limitations should be rescinded, of course — not just because of the Strauss scandal, but to ensure any victim of sexual assault can get justice without having to worry about the clock running out.
DeWine’s plan to investigate responsibility for OSU officials’ failure to stop Strauss is good and necessary. It is to be expected the university itself will say little about the situation, in view of lawsuits filed against it over the scandal.
But holding those who let Strauss get away with it responsible is important, and not just for appearances’ sake. If they neglected their responsibility in his case, how many other crimes have they — or might they — overlook?
Another reason to press the investigation is, in a way, even more important. Why and how Strauss was allowed to molest so many students during a period of nearly 20 years needs to be known. Clearly, something went badly wrong at OSU. Finding out precisely what that was may help prevent similar outrages in the future.