clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Multiple lawsuits filed against Ohio State over sexual abuse accusations

A total of 5 former wrestlers filed a pair of suits this week.

Update, July 20: President Drake, on behalf of the University, released an update on their investigation and charges being reported.

In recent months, The Ohio State University and its athletic department have been hit with a number of shocking accusations of sexual abuse and molestation. These accusations have led to three separate lawsuits, including two filed by former OSU wrestlers in the last two days.

The wrestling suits center around alleged abuse at the hands of former university physician Richard Strauss, who passed away in 2005. In a suit filed on Monday, four former wrestlers are suing the school, not only because they claim that they were “sexually assaulted, battered, molested, and/or harassed” in the 1980s and 90s, but also because they claim that former athletic director Andy Geiger and former wrestling coach Russell Hellickson had “actual and/or constructive notice” of the allegations, but failed to act, violating the students’ Title IX protections.

According to CNN, Geiger met with two wrestlers during the 1994-95 season who complained about “voyeuristic and lewd conduct of men in the locker room and sauna.” The suit claims that while the former AD said that he would look into the situation, nothing was ever done. The suit seeks compensation for Title IX and civil rights due process violations.

A second, separate lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, which alleges that Strauss posed “substantial risk of sexual abuse, harassment and molestation to the young male student-patients who sought treatment through OSU.”

The plaintiff in this suit was a wrestler at Ohio State from 1982-1984 and claims that he was sexually harassed and abused during physical examinations by the doctor. Neither Geiger, nor Hellickson are named in this suit.

On Tuesday night, the university said in a statement to the media, that, as they have been since accusations resurfaced earlier this year, they are “actively committed to uncovering what may have happened and what university leaders at the time may have known... [Ohio State is] 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.”

United States congressman Jim Jordan, a former Ohio State assistant wrestling coach, has been accused of not acting when concerns were raised about Strauss’ behavior, but neither suit names him as a defendant. Jordan has denied having any knowledge of abuse committed against his athletes.

Ohio State is also facing a third lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse at the hands of William Bohonyi, a former coach with the Ohio State University Diving Club, which provides diving lessons to aspiring collegiate and Olympic divers.

According to CNN, Bohonyi is accused of forcing a diver at Indiana University to perform sex acts on him in 2009 before he came to Columbus, and then similarly with a 16-year-old diver in 2014, who was a member of the Ohio State University Diving Club. The suit names Bohonyi, USA Diving, and the OSU Diving Club as defendants. The university is being accused of not properly responding to accusations.