Ohio State trustee resigns, calls Meyer's penalty too light

Richard Strauss, former Ohio State doctor who sexually abused students, Photo Date: Undated / Photo: OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY / (MGN)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio State University trustee who thought football coach Urban Meyer deserved more than a three-game suspension and resigned from the board over it said Thursday that he was alone in advocating a stiffer penalty when trustees discussed the matter.

Former board chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth resigned after Ohio State suspended Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith last week following a two-week investigation, which found they had tolerated bad behavior for years from a now-fired assistant coach also accused of but not charged with domestic violence.

Wadsworth told the New York Times on Thursday that he felt Meyer hadn't demonstrated "high-integrity behavior" and that the findings of the investigation "raised an issue of standards, values — not how many games someone should be suspended for."

The findings included that Meyer should have told university officials about domestic violence allegations made against the assistant in 2015 and that Meyer intentionally misled reporters about what he knew when asked about the matter this summer. Trustees met to discuss those findings on Aug. 22.

Wadsworth told the newspaper he left the daylong meeting at lunch, learned of President Michael Drake's resulting decision after it was publicized, and resigned that night.

He wouldn't comment further about that move when reached by The Associated Press. He also isn't sharing others details about the trustees' private discussions on the matter, and no other members of the board have done so.

In a statement Thursday, Ohio State said the trustees and Drake "had a frank and comprehensive discussion last week" and that "a wide variety of perspectives were expressed in reaching a consensus."

The school said Wadsworth, a retired president of Battelle Memorial Institute, was "an exceptionally valuable member of the board," where he'd served since 2010.

The Meyer discussion certainly wasn't his first involving the professional fate of a scrutinized employee with many fans. Wadsworth was board chairman in 2014 when Drake decided to fire marching band director Jonathan Waters after an investigation uncovered band traditions and rituals that were racy, raunchy or suggestive. Waters said he'd been trying to change such activities, but Drake and the university insisted that Waters controlled the band and answered for its practices, even those that came from old traditions.

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Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.


Ohio State: 145 firsthand accounts of doctor sex misconduct

By KANTELE FRANKO, Associated Press

At least 145 people have provided firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct by a former Ohio State University team doctor accused of groping scores of male athletes and other students during his two decades there.

They're among more than 335 people interviewed by the law firm hired to investigate allegations raised this year about Dr. Richard Strauss, according to an update from the university's attorney that was read Thursday to an Ohio State trustees' committee by Provost Bruce McPheron.

The people interviewed by Seattle-based Perkins Coie so far include employees from athletics, the health center and human resources, as well as administrators from that time period, though some key witnesses are now deceased, according to the letter.

The team has searched 525 boxes of university records for relevant materials, and the investigators say that number likely will double as investigators continue trying to track down decades-old information from papers and people.

"The significant passage of time that has occurred since Strauss' tenure at the university brings with it the additional challenge of scattered witnesses who must first be identified, then located, and then willing to cooperate," McPheron read.

The allegations dating from 1979 to 1997 now involve male athletes from at least 16 sports, plus Strauss' work at the student health center and his off-campus medical office. Investigators also are reviewing whether university officials properly responded to any concerns raised about Strauss during his tenure, and whether Strauss examined high school students.

No deadline is set for completing the nearly 5-month-old investigation, but the lawyers estimate their fact-finding efforts could wrap up this fall if no further avenues of inquiry arise.

Some of the trustees on the Audit and Compliance Committee also are on a task force monitoring the investigation.

"It is a very independent process, extremely comprehensive," said one of them, trustee John Zeiger, who said the university will be straightforward about what the investigation concludes.

Strauss killed himself in 2005. His relatives have said they were shocked by the allegations and want to know the truth.

Many of the accusers who have spoken publicly allege Strauss groped them or conducted unnecessary genital exams. Some of them are plaintiffs in three related lawsuits filed against the school.

It's also the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which is examining whether Ohio State has responded "promptly and equitably" to students' complaints, including claims that school officials knew about misconduct by Strauss but didn't stop him.

Ohio State's chief compliance officer has said the university has responded appropriately since allegations about Strauss were brought forward this spring.

Some alumni say they raised concerns about Strauss to university employees as far back as the late 1970s, early in Strauss' tenure. The university has a record of at least one documented complaint in 1995, when a student health center director said a student's complaint about being inappropriately touched by Strauss during an exam was the first such complaint he'd received.

Ohio State has urged anyone with information about Strauss to contact the outside investigators from the law firm Perkins Coie, which isn't proactively reaching out to possible victims out of concern for potentially re-traumatizing them.



 
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