Ohio State abuse case echoes the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State

Associated Press

A scandal at Ohio State University over decades-old sexual misconduct by a team doctor has raised comparisons with the Larry Nassar abuse case at Michigan State University, which inspired many Ohio State victims to come forward. A side-by-side look at the cases.

The accused

— Larry Nassar was a doctor and instructor at Michigan State University from 1997 to 2016 and a team physician for U.S. men's and women's gymnastics teams at four Olympic games. Nassar, 55, will likely spend the rest of his life in federal prison after pleading to child pornography charges last year. He also pleaded guilty to abusing gymnasts in Michigan state court and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in January.

— Richard Strauss was a team physician and professor during his employment at Ohio State from 1978 until his retirement in 1998, when he was awarded emeritus status. Strauss tested Olympic athletes for illegal drug use during the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles and served on various sports-sciences and sports-medicine publication committees with the International Olympic Committee. He killed himself in California in 2005 at the age of 67. Were he alive today, it's unclear whether he would have faced any criminal charges because of Ohio's statute of limitations.

The two men share a scholastic tie. Strauss received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Michigan State in 1960. Nassar graduated from the school's College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1993.

The victims

— More than 250 female gymnasts and athletes from Michigan State and gymnastic clubs have publicly accused Nassar of abuse. Many of Nassar's victims were juveniles.

— Ohio State has said more than 100 former students have shared firsthand accounts with investigators from a law firm hired by the school that Strauss acted inappropriately. While Strauss was best known at Ohio State as the team physician for the university's top-ranked wrestling team, the university said in April it had received allegations about Strauss from former male athletes in 14 different varsity sports.

Whistleblowers

— Rachael Denhollander, an attorney, coach and former Michigan State gymnast, contacted the Indianapolis Star in 2016 and filed a criminal complaint with Michigan State University police. Denhollander told the Star, which has just published an article on USA Gymnastics' failure to act on reports of sexual abuse by coaches, that Nassar began molesting her when she was 15.

— Mike DiSabato, who wrestled at Ohio State from 1987 to 1991, met with university officials in March to discuss Strauss, inspired in part by Denhollander's example. Ohio State officials announced not long after it had launched an investigation into allegations against Strauss and then hired a law firm to conduct an independent probe. In recent weeks, some have questioned DiSabato's motives, including whether he had a vendetta against GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, an assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1995. Jordan has said he was unaware of abuse allegations concerning Strauss and would not have ignored them.

Pseudo-science

— Authorities say Nassar used illegitimate scientific and medical explanations to explain to gymnasts complaining about bone and muscle pain why he would penetrate them for extended periods of time over the course of many treatments.

— Several former Ohio State wrestlers have said Strauss would spend five minutes or longer examining and manipulating their genitals during physical examinations and treatment for all kinds of medical conditions, telling wrestlers he needed to examine their lymph nodes.

University knowledge

— Gymnasts said they told Michigan State officials and university police years earlier about Nassar. Longtime university President Lou Anna K. Simon resigned under pressure in January on the day Nassar was sentenced for abusing seven girls in state court. Athletic Director Mark Hollis announced his retirement earlier this year. The school's gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, retired the day after she was suspended with pay and on Thursday was charged with lying to police. Michigan State trustees issued an apology after Nassar's victims told their stories in January. "We failed you," trustee Brian Mosallam said.

— Wrestlers and other Ohio State athletes have said they notified university officials during meetings and in writing about Strauss and the inappropriate behavior at Larkins Hall, the facility some athletic teams had locker rooms and where Strauss worked. Officials, many of whom are retired, have denied any knowledge about Strauss' sexual misconduct. Ohio State officials have said the university is committed to uncovering the truth.

The allegations against the doctors have led to Title IX investigations by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights at both schools.

Lawsuits

— Michigan State has agreed to a $500 million settlement, $425 million to be shared among 332 women and girls and $75 million for future claims. There are pending lawsuits against USA Gymnastics, International Federation of Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee, and an elite gymnastics club based in Lansing, Michigan.

— Three federal lawsuits have been filed against Ohio State over the Strauss allegations. Two of the lawsuits are class-action complaints.

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