Harassment: Ohio State University officials have questions to answer
Ohio State University’s investigation of a sports doctor alleged to have sexually abused athletes at several institutions of higher learning has turned over a commendable number of stones. What has come creeping out from under some of them is disturbing.
Scores of people, including former OSU athletes, have been interviewed by investigators. They want to know if the late Richard Strauss, who served as the OSU wrestling team’s doctor for a time, abused university athletes. If so, the logical question is how he got away with it.
Some former OSU wrestlers have told investigators of a more widespread problem with sexual predators. During a period decades ago, some wrestling team members were leered at and even propositioned by other men who had access to the team’s shower room, it has been learned.
One ex-wrestler described “a gauntlet of sexual deviancy” through which he and teammates had to pass after practices, The Associated Press reports. Another talked of “creepy people” infesting the building used by the team.
Russ Hellickson, who coached at OSU from 1986-2006, described finding men having sex in the wrestling team’s practice room. “It became a real problem because it affected the mental state of a lot of our wrestlers,” who complained about the environment, Hellickson said.
Accusations regarding Strauss have been bad enough. But complaints by former wrestlers and coaches about a pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment are even worse.
Good for OSU officials for turning over all the rocks they can find. Now, they need to start asking why, if the wrestling team was victimized as alleged, the problem was permitted to persist for years. If it was as bad as it seems, university officials from that period have a lot of explaining to do.