COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has appointed a 15-member panel to dissect a 1996 State Medical Board investigation that resulted in no charges against an Ohio State University physician who sexually abused at least 177 students.
Dr. Richard Strauss molested the men while serving in Ohio State's athletic department and at the student health center from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s, a university investigation found.
Sections of the report involving the State Medical Board of Ohio investigation of Strauss were redacted because state law forbids the release of information unless misconduct charges are filed.
DeWine is asking the working group to examine the redacted information and determine if the State Medical Board acted appropriately more than two decades ago in not acting against Strauss, who later killed himself.
The group has an Aug. 1 deadline to produce its report, which could include recommendations on changes to law regarding the release of complaints and investigations concerning physicians.
Appointed on Friday to the panel by DeWine were Tom Stickrath, director, Ohio Department of Public Safety (chairman); Lori Criss, director, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; former state Rep. Michael Curtin, D-Marble Cliff; Dr. Kent Harshbarger, Montgomery County coroner; Kelly Heile, assistant prosecutor, Butler County; and Lance Himes, general counsel, Ohio Department of Health.
Also appointed were Assistant Chief Savalas Kidd, University of Dayton Police; Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin; Police Chief Jeff Newton, University of Toledo; Carol O'Brien, deputy Ohio attorney general; Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien; Patrick Oliver, director of criminal justice program, Cedarville University; Amy Pridday, victim advocate, Ohio attorney general's office; Sloan Spalding, chief of staff, state auditor's office; and State Highway Patrol Lt. Col. Kevin Teaford.
The State Medical Board voted Thursday to waive its confidentiality interest in its investigative materials regarding Strauss, but said Ohio State would have to obtain confidentiality waivers from each entity involved in the medical board’s investigation before it could release redacted portions of the university’s report on Strauss’ sexual abuse.
Citing the Strauss case, DeWine is calling on lawmakers to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape charges, to reduce the deadline for filing charges in other sex crimes and to allow adult abuse victims more time to file damages lawsuits against state institutions over sexual abuse.
Meanwhile on Friday, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson ordered that he and lawyers in the case receive unredacted copies of Ohio State's commissioned investigation for "attorneys' eyes only" for use in mediation efforts as the university and victims of Strauss try to settle lawsuits seeking damages.