Earlier this year, the Larry Nassar trial sparked a fury of public outrage as more than 200 women and girls came forward to accuse the former sports doctor of sexual abuse. But for some, Nassar's trial also sparked memories. More than 100 former Ohio State University students levied allegations of sexual misconduct against a now-deceased team doctor last month — and some of them have now said it was the survivors of Nassar's abuse that inspired them to come forward and say, "Us too."
At least two of the former Ohio State wrestlers to have gone public with their allegations of abuse against Richard H. Strauss, a doctor employed by the school from the mid-1970s to the 1990s, have told The New York Times they were awakened to their own sexual abuse by the Nassar trial.
"I didn't recognize my abuse until I saw it," former varsity wrestler Mike DiSabato told The Times in reference to a conversation he had with a former teammate about the Nassar case. "He started reading the details of these young ladies and I said, 'Dude, that's us.'"
An investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse levied against Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, turned up years of allegations from more than 100 former students, Ohio State University officials announced last month. Allegations against Strauss have reportedly come from former Student Health Service patients and former university athletes, including those who played on the varsity men's teams of 14 different sports.
Former Ohio State University wrestler Nick Nutter told The Times that Nassar's trial "woke up the beast," spurring memories of unnecessary genital groping during at least 19 different exams. According to The Times, Nutter had previously pushed away his unease and concerns over Strauss' examinations by telling himself that Strauss was a doctor and must have had a medical reason for what he was doing. Nutter said Nassar's trial, in which many of the women reported using the same reasoning, made him realize that what Strauss had done to him was sexual abuse.
"Michigan State is what got us to say, 'Hey, it can happen even to guys,'" Nutter told The Times.
Reid Delman, another former Ohio State University wrestler, told WOSU he'd begun "reflecting" about his experiences after hearing Nassar's victims tell their stories. "It started to put those thoughts into my mind that those people who were complaining about Doc Strauss at the time might have had something to complain about," he said. Delman said he'd felt "weird" about Strauss' examinations, which he described as "sexual misconduct," and knew "a couple of guys that were really bothered by" them.
Five former Ohio State University wrestlers filed two separate class-action lawsuits against the university last month, alleging their initial complaints of Strauss' behavior were ignored by coaches and administrators who turned a blind eye to the abuse happening on its campus in the late 1970s and mid-1990s. One former wrestler alleged Strauss abused him at least 20 times throughout the 1980s while the other four alleged that Strauss "sexually assaulted, battered, molested, and/or harassed" them in the 1990s, with the majority of the incidents occurring during physicals.
A third lawsuit was filed against the school last week by 10 former students alleging Ohio State University maintained "a culture of institutional indifference" regarding student safety. According to The Hill, that lawsuit names at least nine now-former Ohio State University employees who the students allege knew about Strauss' abuse.