On Monday afternoon, it was announced that Hollywood superstar George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures are set to produce a documentary series about a decades-long abuse scandal at the Ohio State University athletic department. The abuse stems from multiple accounts against former Buckeye team physician Richard Strauss.
Talking to The Hollywood ReporterExecutive Producer Jon Wertheim explained in detail what the documentary series will focus on. The series does not yet have a platform for its launch.
“This article uncovers the most widespread sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education. It is a story about the power, abuse, empowerment, and hierarchy of college sports that had been hidden for too long,” Wertheim said. . “Because these brave men made the decision not to remain silent any longer, we can finally begin to hold the abuser and those who were complicit in their silence accountable for their actions and inactions. With the help of 101 Studios, [SI owner] Authentic Brands Group and Smokehouse Pictures, their voices and stories, heartbreaking as they are, will be amplified. “
After several student-athletes and student health center patients alleged abuse by Strauss, five former students filed a lawsuit in 2019. The lawsuit claims that Strauss abused them and that administrators, coaches, doctors and other employees were informed about the abuse but did not act. All of the plaintiffs were listed as “John Doe” in the lawsuit to protect their identities.
“Instead of taking steps to stop the serial abuse of Dr. Strauss, OSU not only turned a blind eye, it facilitated the abuse,” the lawsuit states.
This latest lawsuit comes after Strauss was charged with sexual assault during his 20 years as a physician for various Ohio state sports teams in 2018. In July 2018, more than 100 former students reported first-hand sexual misconduct committed by Strauss. The state of Ohio began investigating Strauss in April after allegations against the doctor.
The lawsuit provides details of the abuse and harassment the plaintiffs suffered when they came to Strauss for examination. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were asked sexualized questions, received inappropriate comments about their bodies and inappropriately touched their genitals.
The lawsuit also alleges an inappropriate Ohio state culture around Strauss and gives examples of university officials having direct knowledge of what happened when patients went to see Strauss. The lawsuit states that a coach would threaten athletes with a visit to Strauss if they did not listen as well as various nicknames for Strauss used to describe the doctor by athletes, coaches, coaches and athletic directors that reflected his inappropriate behavior.
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Strauss worked for Ohio State from 1978 to 1998 and was the team doctor for 17 men’s varsity sports and also served as a physician at the university’s student health center. He retired in 1998 and committed suicide in 2005.