A former Ohio State swimmer has come forward as one of many men to accuse Richard Strauss, a former Ohio State physician of 20 years, of sexual abuse.
In a lawsuit filed December 20, Canadian Derek de Jong — who graduated in 1995 — is one of four men who allege that Ohio State is being “deliberately indifferent” to the abuse. The lawsuit contends that “Ohio State officials not only had actual notice of Strauss’s criminal and unlawful actions, they aided, abetted, and actively concealed Strauss’ sexual predation on OSU’s students.”
De Jong specifically says he was abused at least four times. According to 10TV, the suit claims that Strauss “showered in the locker rooms, took pictures of de Jong, masturbated in front of him and positioned himself invasively when performing examinations.” De Jong, who was the 1989 Canadian Games gold medalist in the 100 free, also claims he quit swimming because of Strauss.
The abuse allegedly began after Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, helped de Jong get admitted to the school’s selective exercise science program.
“Strauss found out that I was interested in medicine,” de Jong told NBC News. “He intervened on my behalf without my request.”
“When I got in he congratulated me and asked, ‘When do you want to repay me for it?’” de Jong said.
At one point, de Jong said he swam through having a severe allergic reaction to taking penicillin Strauss had prescribed because he was scared to go back to see the doctor.
“I had a severe sinus infection and he wanted to examine all my glands for swelling. So he had me drop my pants. When he went for my back again, I pushed him off and barked at him,” de Jong told NBC News. “I got in the pool and swam, with a severe anaphylactic reaction to penicillin that Strauss gave me and swam because of fear of him,” he said.
After he gave up swimming a graduated, de Jong became a truck driver “to make sure he had as little contact with people as possible,” then joined the navy in 2005, where a trying stint eventually culminated in a medical discharge in 2017. He now resides in Nova Scotia with his wife and teenage daughter.
De John found out about Ohio State’s investigation while watching TV in 2018. “My first reaction was anger,” de Jong said. “I thought I was going to die with this secret.”
After the new lawsuit was filed, the Ohio State gave 10TV a statement saying it is a “fundamentally different” university today than it was during Strauss’ tenure, and that it expresses “deep regret and apologies to all who experienced Strauss’ abuse and remain[s] actively committed to a fair resolution, including a monetary resolution.”