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Two former Ohio State students speak out on doctor's alleged sexual abuse

Ex-OSU athletes speak on alleged sex abuse
Former Ohio State athletes speak out on doctor's alleged sex abuse 04:22

A new federal lawsuit claims Ohio State University received multiple warnings alleging a former team doctor sexually abused students. Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, worked for 20 years at OSU. The school said more than 100 people, including former athletes and patients at student health services, have now come forward, accusing Strauss of abuse.

This is the third lawsuit filed since the allegations against Strauss became public in April when former members of the wrestling team spoke out. Unlike the first two, this is not a class action suit. Two former patients CBS News spoke with said they want to make sure their individual stories are told.

"When I reread this, it makes me angry because they invalidated me back then in 1995," Steve Snyder-Hill told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Dana Jacobson, showing her the complaint he filed after visiting OSU student health services to check on a lump in his chest.

"And it's really clear, it's just somebody taking handwritten notes," Jacobson noted.

"It's my words," Snyder-Hill said.

He told a school representative his conversation with Dr. Strauss "felt flirty" and "not at all appropriate." He reported that the doctor pushed his groin against him and gave him unnecessary testicular and rectal exams.

"He was a doctor. I was a student. I went in there vulnerable. I was even more vulnerable because he had me de-clothed. And I'm sitting there in front of him. And everything's going really badly," Snyder-Hill said.

"Were there points within the exam where you thought, 'I should say something but I don't know what to do,' or, 'This is strange'?" Jacobson asked.

"No. When it was happening to me, I was literally letting it happen because I didn't know how to respond to it," Snyder-Hill said.    

"CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Dana Jacobson (left) with Steve Snyder-Hill (center) and Ron McDaniel CBS News

After Snyder-Hill reported the incident, the director of student health services wrote a letter saying they "had never received a complaint about Dr. Strauss before." But Ron McDaniel said Strauss' behavior had been an open secret for years.

"So your coach was aware of what you said happened?" Jacobson asked.

"Oh, yeah," McDaniel said.

The former OSU tennis player said he informed a team trainer and fellow athletes that Strauss touched him inappropriately while treating a cold in 1982.

"And they started laughing and they were, like, 'You got hit. You're a rookie. You didn't know?' And I was, like, 'What, know what?' And they were, like, 'You could go to him for a hangnail and he has to check your testicles,'" McDaniel said.

"And they just laughed about this," Jacobson said.

"Yeah, they laughed about it, as in it's absurd and it's, like, 'You got hit, you're a rookie,' OK, welcome to the club, we all went through it," McDaniel said.

McDaniel and Snyder-Hill are among 10 men who've filed a new lawsuit against Ohio State, accusing the school of fostering an "ingrained culture of institutional indifference" that "succeeded in keeping Dr. Strauss's two decades of serial sexual abuse buried." Strauss died by suicide in 2005, years after retiring from Ohio State.

Attorney Jack Landskroner, who said he's heard from dozens of alleged victims so far, said he hopes this legal action will bring about change.

"The university turned a blind eye to a serial sexual harasser. And we want to make sure that never happens again," Landskroner said.

Ohio State launched an independent investigation in April. A spokesman said: "We are aware of reports that individuals at the university did not respond appropriately during that era. These allegations are troubling and are a critical focus of the current investigation."

"We thought we were doing the right thing in telling our coach. They were the athletic department. We looked to the coaches, the trainers and the doctors to do the right thing," McDaniel said.

"And, I mean, we are kids. We were kids. They have a job to protect us. And not only did they not protect us, but they subjected us to that guy over, and over, and over again. And then when I tried to stand up for people, they shut me down," Snyder-Hill said.

Along with the acknowledgement of wrongdoing, the men are asking for an unspecified amount of money in damages.

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