Number of Sex Crimes in Michigan State, Ohio State ASRs ‘Unprecedented’

In 2018, there were 992 reported incidents of fondling and 30 reported incidents of rape attributed to former Ohio State physician Richard Strauss.
Published: October 9, 2019

The number of sexual assaults included in Ohio State University’s and Michigan State University’s 2018 Annual Security Reports (ASR) are at unprecedented highs due to crimes linked to former doctors Richard Strauss and Larry Nassar.

Ohio State said there have been nearly 1,500 reported instances of sexual abuse linked to Richard Strauss, a now-diseased former physician who treated athletes from at least 16 sports and worked at the student health center and his off-campus clinic from 1978 to 1998.

The abuse reported in 2018 includes 992 instances of fondling and 30 incidents of rape attributed to Strauss, the Dispatch reports. Approximately 450 additional incidents of abuse linked to Strauss will be included in the school’s 2019 statistics since they were reported after Jan. 1 of this year.

In August, a report released by the school said officials knew of at least 177 students who were sexually abused by Strauss but did nothing to stop it. However, the numbers released last week by OSU is the first time officials shared a tally of sexual abuse allegations against Strauss since the school announced an investigation into the doctor in April 2018.

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At Michigan State, there was a total of 1,037 rape cases and 164 fondling cases reported in 2018 across all campuses — most of which are attributed to Larry Nassar. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse of athletes he treated during his long-standing career as a physician at MSU and for USA Gymnastics.

Last May, MSU reached a settlement of $500 million with 332 women and girls who allege they were sexually abused by Nassar. Other lawsuits are pending from more than 100 people, according to USA Today.

The numbers reported by OSU and MSU are the highest to ever appear in Clery campus safety reports, according to S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses.

“In terms of violent crimes, no institution has ever reported a number this high,” said Carter. “It is completely unprecedented. But obviously it’s a function of covering potentially decades of reports or incidents.”

This September, the U.S. Department of Education levied the largest-ever Clery fine of $4.5 million against MSU over its mishandling of Nassar abuse allegations. 

It seems unlikely OSU will face a similar Clery fine, according to Carter. Although Clery Act requirements to report campus sexual assaults were in place in the 1990s, at the end of Strauss’ employment, violations of the law “would not be subject to any fine at this point,” he said, referring to a 2015 decision and subsequent 2016 decision that Clery Act fines are time-barred by a five-year statute of limitations stipulated in a separate federal law on civil penalties.

Last week, another lawsuit representing 21 more former students was filed against OSU, bringing the number of lawsuits to at least eight involving almost 200 plaintiffs.

Abigail Boyer, associate executive director of the Clery Center, said the high numbers at both schools are a reminder that Clery safety reports exist to create more transparency regarding crimes occurring on campus.

“These are not just statistics; they are people who are harmed within our community,” she said.

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