Culture of cover-up: The complaint that finally ended abuse by an Ohio State doctor

Ohio

One student complained so relentlessly that Dr. Strauss was finally suspended by Ohio State, ending two decades of sexual assaults disguised as physical exams

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Hundreds of young men were abused at the hands of a doctor at Ohio State. NBC4’s Colleen Marshall is looking into an alleged ‘culture of cover-up’ at Ohio State that resulted in the abuse over two decades.

“They never said that this monster didn’t do this. They just said it’s just been too long. That’s it. That’s their defense. Tell your kids that. Let them tell your kids that,” said Stephen Snyder-Hill. He has identified himself as Student B, a central figure in the so-called Perkins report.

In 1995, he was the student who complained so relentlessly that Dr. Richard Strauss was finally suspended by Ohio State, ending two decades of sexual assaults disguised as physical exams.

“He molested me the same way he did others, a lot of intimidation,” said Snyder-Hill.

On January 5, 1995, he went to the OSU Men’s Health Clinic because he had a strange lump on his chest.

“He asked me if I was gay, he asked me if I had trouble sleeping with one person, asked me if I wanted something else sexually, he was getting really gross and I knew it was inappropriate,” said Snyder-Hill. “He did a full anal exam and a rectal exam. And I knew it was really bad when he put me down to check my chest and he sat there and rubbed it and he had an erection. And he pushed it against me and just held me there.”

Similar stories were repeated to Perkins investigators over and over again, mostly by former student-athletes, with scholarships on the line. They were sent to the team doctor, then assaulted.

“You go to the doctor and you’re vulnerable. Stauss made me get completely naked for this exam. I knew something was wrong with that. But you just can’t put yourself in that place,” said Snyder-Hill.

Snyder wasn’t a vulnerable student-athlete, he was a 25-year-old veteran of military action. Still, he was hesitant to challenge a university doctor.

“The greater good got to me and I decided I had to something. So I called them the very next day,” said Snyder-Hill.

A meeting was set up with Medical Director Dr. Ted Grace, a counselor and shockingly, Dr. Strauss.

“And as the meeting went on and I started getting into the details, once I got to the part about the erection, he slammed his hand down and it was like a demon came out of him, screaming at me and saying, ‘you’re going to ruin my reputation,'” said Snyder-Hill.

He said Strauss screamed at him for the rest of the meeting.

“Tell me right there, we would never do that to a sexual assault survivor today. We’d never put them in front of their abuser and let their abuser berate them,” said Snyder-Hill.

The next day, Dr. Grace called to ask what Snyder-Hill wanted in order to keep quiet.

“I want you to promise me it’s never happened before to another kid, I want to you to promise me that if it ever happens again that I will get a call because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, and I want you to document it in his file. I said if you can promise me those three things, then I’ll just go away,” said Snyder-Hill. “I could tell that that bothered him a lot. But sure enough, two days later, I got a letter from him. And that letter, he kind of skirted around the issue. He didn’t say he would call me, he said he would consider future complaints and prior complaints. But in that letter, he said they’ve never had another complaint about Strauss. Only positive comments.”

We asked the university to comment for this story. Because of pending litigation, no one can appear on camera. In public statements, Dr. Michael Drake has acknowledged OSU made some ‘reprehensible’ and ‘inexcusable’ mistakes back then.

The university is offering counseling to the victims and has committed to making some kind of financial settlement.

Thursday at 6 p.m. on NBC4, you’ll hear more about the first time someone raised a red flag, how many people knew, and the depth of the cover-up.

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