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Medical Board Reopens 91 Old Cases About Sexual Impropriety

Mar 11, 2021

A review of whether Ohio’s medical board properly closed old cases of alleged sexual assault or impropriety by medical professionals has resulted in recommendations to refer 11 cases to law enforcement and reopen 91 more for further investigation.

The subjects of those cases remain secret, at least for now, because the State Medical Board doesn’t disclose who is under investigation unless the cases result in citations or discipline.

The review of more than 1,200 cases from the past 25 years was launched in 2019 after the board learned that evidence of misconduct had been ignored in one case: its 1996 investigation involving the since-deceased Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss. He has since been accused of abusing hundreds of young men during the two decades preceding the medical board investigation. Strauss was never disciplined, and officials say they can’t determine now why his case was closed.

The team reviewing the old cases actually had recommended that the board reopen more than 200 of them, but acknowledged that doing so would be difficult in more than half of those because of the circumstances or the available information.

The reviewers also recommended additional investigation for 42 cases in which board licensees might have violated their duty to report misconduct by fellow licensees.

One of those involves a former Ohio State student health director accused of knowing but failing to report multiple sexual misconduct complaints about Strauss in the mid-1990s. That former director sought an administrative hearing before the medical board decides whether to take action against his license, and the hearing is scheduled for next month.

The number of cases recommended for additional investigation was revealed this week in the final report from a state working group that reviewed the board’s handling of the Strauss case.

The panel acknowledged that the medical board has changed its policies and procedures in the wake of that review and credited the board for making “real and meaningful strides toward ensuring that never again would it fail to act when it holds credible, actionable information about one of its licensees, such as it had with Strauss.”