A recent report from the university states that Dr. Richard Strauss committed more than 1,400 sexual assaults and 47 rapes while he worked as their physician from 1978 to 1998
A Fox news anchor is braving coming forward after he was abused by Ohio State University’s school doctor when he was a student-athlete nearly 30 years ago.
Mike Avery, a former lacrosse player for OSU who now works as a news anchor for FOX 17 Morning News in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is joining hundreds of others who have spoken out after being sexually abused by the school’s physician, Dr. Richard Strauss.
While speaking to NBC Nightly News in an interview Thursday, Avery, 50, said he has struggled to come to terms with the abuse that he experienced as a student-athlete from 1988-1991.
“I’ve got a story that I’ve been carrying with me for three decades,” he told the outlet. “It’s something I won’t forget.”
During his sophomore year of college, Avery says that Strauss performed a groin examination on him that immediately felt wrong.
“No physical I’d ever known went on like this,” he recalled, adding that the exam seemed to go on forever. “I remember saying to one of my teammates afterward, ‘I think I was just assaulted.'”
Aside from his teammate, Avery never disclosed what happened to him to anyone else, which eventually began to affect his relationships later in life.
“I didn’t say anything to anyone. I didn’t say a word for three decades,” he explained. “My wife and I have had trouble with our marriage. It caused problems I didn’t expect to have to deal with.”
However, everything changed in May when Perkins Coie, a law firm hired by the university, released an investigative report detailing how Strauss sexually abused students and how school officials allegedly failed to take appropriate action.
“I was angry that I have to share this with my family who had no idea,” Avery said. “And with what I do for a living, got to share it with my viewers locally where I live.”
The May report alleged that university personnel had knowledge of the abuse as early as 1979, but complaints were never elevated beyond the Athletics or Student Health departments until 1996.
That year, the university suspended Strauss after a patient accused him of “fondling him during a genital examination,” according to the report. Strauss was removed from the campus, but he was allowed to maintain his position as a tenured faculty member until 1998 when he voluntarily retired. Strauss died by suicide in 2005.
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At the time, the school’s president Michael Drake sent a statement to students, faculty, and staff, where he called the findings “shocking and painful to comprehend.”
“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse. Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable — as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members,” Drake added.
Since May, the number of cases against Strauss have skyrocketed. OSU stated in its annual crime report this week that Strauss committed as many as 1,429 sexual assaults and 47 outright rapes while in his position as the university’s physician.
“This guy basically roamed that campus for decades, preying on dozens of athletes,” Avery told NBC News. “It’s absolutely angering that this went on.”
A rep for OSU did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Aside from Avery, fellow OSU students Michael Rodriguez and Nick Nutter also spoke to NBC News about their experiences with Strauss.
Rodriguez, a former wrestler at the university from 1990 to 1992, dropped out of school after his encounter with Strauss. He claimed that the doctor masturbated him at his home after Rodriguez went to him to receive ointment to treat his pubic lice.
“It never dawned on me to hit him,” Rodriguez admitted. “I never went back to practice, I never went back to class, I never told my coach.”
Nutter, a former wrestler from 1992 to 1997, had a similar account where Strauss allegedly groped him during physicals and shared one disturbing encounter when Strauss masturbated him on his bed at home in a candlelit room covered with photos of shirtless men.
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“I would have a cauliflower ear and he would say pull your pants down,” Nutter recalled, adding that he never took action against Strauss for fear that he’d lose his college scholarship. “The last thing I wanted to do is punch a doctor in the nose and ruin that scholarship.”
Now that he’s come forward with his story, Avery said he’s hoping that he won’t be viewed differently by audiences who watch him on Fox 17 Morning News and that people will still accept him.
“Now they are going to see a different side of me,” he told the outlet. “I hope the support is there… I’m just me.”