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Ohio State sexual abuse victims gather for protest at Cleveland event scheduled to include university's president

Although OSU President Kristina Johnson did not attend Tuesday's event at Windows on the River, victims of Dr. Richard Strauss' abuse gathered outside to protest.

CLEVELAND — An event in Cleveland that was supposed to be hosted by Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson on Tuesday went on without her. Outside, a group of men who were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of OSU's late team doctor Richard Strauss were protesting for change.

Guests entered Windows on the River dressed up in their scarlet and gray finest, each having paid for "A Special Gathering With Ohio State's President." But according to OSU public relations, Johnson had a last minute conflict.

Outside of the event in the Flats, men held signs. Each with a story tying back to abuse at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss. Few entering the event made eye contact.

"I understand people came for dinner and they didn't expect to be confronted with this, but the message is that important," said former OSU wrestler and Strauss victim Tom Lisy.

That message? Listen to our stories.

A former wrestler, a former gymnast and a former student all with tales of abuse at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss while he worked at Ohio State. All not satisfied with how the university has treated their claims, or that the statute of limitations limits their legal options.

"Your whole sense of who you are, your masculinity just gets ripped out of you. And he has this control over you which I don't think a while lot of people understand," former OSU gymnast and Strauss victim Gary Avis added.

An Ohio State spokesperson told 3News that Johnson had a last minute scheduling conflict, and emailed us a statement saying in part, "We offer our deepest regrets and apologies to all who experienced Strauss' abuse." OSU says that there are 232 survivors who have settled with the university, receiving a total of $57.8 million. 

That settlement is something that the victims who were protesting on Tuesday say came at much too high a price.

"Once you're in the agreement, you can't get out of it. Once you're in the agreement, if they told you you're getting zero for your damages, you could never talk about it, you could never tell another soul. You couldn't talk about it, you couldn't talk badly about it from 2018 on," said group organizer and Strauss assault survivor Steve Snyder-Hill.

You can read Ohio State's full statement to 3News below:

"Beginning in 2018, Ohio State sought to uncover and acknowledge the truth about Richard Strauss’ abuse and the university’s failure at the time to prevent it. We offer our deepest regrets and apologies to all who experienced Strauss’ abuse.

Ohio State has reached settlement agreements totaling $57.8 million with 232 survivors. Many survivors who have not yet settled had the opportunity to settle both during mediation and through the individual settlement program and chose not to.

Strauss was a university employed physician from 1978 to 1998. He died in 2005. Ohio State is a fundamentally different university today and over the past 20 years, has committed substantial resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct. These actions include new policies and programs, mandatory training, centralized reporting, additional staffing, and resources throughout the university, including in athletics and the medical center. They are summarized here: Ohio State’s Progress on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Reporting | Institutional Equity"

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