Tuesday, July 10

Analysis: Is Ohio State another "UVa" (on steroids)?

The evidence in the Ohio State sex abuse investigation points to the media running with a story that was too good to fact check -- just like Rolling Stone ran with its story of a gang rape on the University of Virginia campus

Ray Blehar
July 10, 2018, 8:53 PM, EDT

Here we go again.

Sex abuse allegations at Ohio State University (OSU) have resulted in a (delayed) media onslaught against Ohio State coaches, and specifically, Congressmen Jim Jordan, who "had to know" about and "turned a blind eye" to abuses allegedly perpetrated by former team doctor Richard H. Strauss.

When it comes to reporting about sexual abuse on college campuses, the media seemingly can't separate fact from fiction.  It generally takes whatever the source gives them at face value and runs with it, ruining the reputations of many innocent people in the process.

While the media has already painted the OSU story as another Penn State and/or another Michigan State situation, there are two very critical and important differences that make the Columbus school unlike its conference brothers.

1. Those who were allegedly sexually abused on the campus were adults.
2.  Not a single one of them made a formal contemporaneous report to anyone.

The latter two facts make this case more akin to the allegations of "Jackie," the alleged victim in the UVa gang rape hoax that was reported by Rolling Stone.

And for OSU, the media's "Jackie" is Mike DiSabato.

NBC News and its source

NBC broke the story that Jordan "had to know" based on a video tape given to them by DiSabato.

Note that NBC seemingly had little interest in the investigation when OSU announced it in April.  Similarly, it had little to say when OSU provided an update in early May.

It wasn't until Congressmen Jordan began being featured on the news (with regard to the Mueller investigation) that DiSabato came forward to them with his tape.

The allegations that Jordan "had to know" about Strauss's abuse were too good for NBC to fact-check.

It also didn't bother to look into the credibility of its source.

DiSabato has filed numerous lawsuits against OSU seeking compensation from OSU over licensing of football jerseys (2006) and over use of athletes images (2017).  He and his companies were not overly successful in the lawsuits.

His company, Combat Athlete Coalition, specializes in representing former college athletes in matters of compensation and safety issues.  As such, DiSabato is in contact with many OSU former athletes.

Many former male varsity athletes are coming forward to allege abuse by Strauss.

Are they doing this on their own or were they contacted by DiSabato to come forward?

Finding that out should be on the agenda of Brickler and Eckler, LLP, the legal team hired to  investigate the OSU case.

An email sent by DiSabato to Congressman Jordan, however, seemingly provides the answer:

"I BCC over 250 of my VO BROTHERS WHO WERE RAPED and/or sexual prayed [sic] upon daily under the Buckeye banner which you wanna tie your brand ..." reads the May 6 email, which closes with the phrase: "#RapeCoverUpAWayOfLife."
OSU's lettermen's association is known as Varsity O or VO -- and there is little doubt that they were looped in by DiSabato.

The Accusers

According to the May update from OSU, former male varsity athletes affiliated with cheer leading, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball and wrestling have made confidential reports alleging Strauss abused them. 

As noted earlier, the OSU case is very different from the PSU and MSU cases because those accusing Jordan and other OSU wrestling coaches were adults at the time of the alleged abuse.

They were not young boys who were sexually immature, didn't understand the perpetrators actions, and were groomed into compliance by serial molester - as was the case with Jerry Sandusky.

Nor were they young female gymnasts (and their parents) who were fooled by Dr. Larry's Nassar's phony medical treatments or other young females that Nassar preyed upon as a result of opportunity.

These were adult men who allege that Dr. Richard Strauss was allegedly beyond necessary treatment when they saw him for exams.

And not a single one of them made a formal report on Strauss to the police or anyone else at the time of the abuse.

Neither did "Jackie" at UVa.

Where are the reports?

The first accuser, DiSabato, told NBC that Strauss blackmailed him into compliance by threatening to with hold his medications.   DiSabato also told the media that he put up with it because he was afraid of putting his scholarship in jeopardy.

If that's true, then why didn't DiSabato report Strauss immediately upon finishing his college eligibility -- when Strauss and Ohio State had no leverage over him?

Don't expect the media to ask such a logical question.

DiSabato alleges that the coaches (and Jordan) knew, however no documentary evidence of a report has been found. 

But even more unbelievable is that none of the reports to date have shown that any of the athletes ever told a parent or guardian about their alleged sexual abuse.  Again, this is in direct contrast to PSU and MSU, who received contemporaneous reports of misconduct from parents against Sandusky and Nassar, respectively.

And there's more.

Strauss was formerly employed at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington.

No records of complaints have been found by those schools.

Strauss also worked at two hospitals.

Based on all the reporting so far, there is not a single instance of Strauss ever being reported to an institution where he worked or to the police by anyone.

A statement from Strauss's family said they were "shocked and saddened" by the allegations and the "family seeks the truth."

A former group of OSU wrestling coaches, including former PSU All American and Olympic wrestler Ken Chertow, defended Jordan (and themselves).

"We all worked on the wrestling coaching staff during Jim's tenure...None of us saw or heard of abuse of OSU wrestlers.  If we had heard of any abuse we would have spoken up."

Ironically, eight men who allege abuse say that they want to see anyone who ignored concerns about Strauss held accountable and hope to ensure something similar doesn’t happen to others.


Find a mirror, gentlemen.  

You were adults.  You knew what Strauss was doing.  And you did nothing to stop him and let it happen to others after you departed OSU. 

The sound you hear is this whole OSU story starting to crumble. 

Motivations for a cover-up?

Apparently, the media still doesn't get it.

Serial criminals get away with crimes for years because they are excellent at hiding what they do.  Many say that that serial criminals "hide in plain sight."   It's not that people know about them and don't report them.

Interestingly, the media doesn't have the "everyone had to know" issue with serial killers.

The media never alleged that John Wayne Gacy's or Ted Bundy's or Jeffery Dahmer's neighbors had to know what they were doing.  It seems the "had to know" mantra is reserved for serial sexual molesters.

However, the question remains:  why would OSU wrestling coaches and the administration cover for Strauss?

In the Jerry Sandusky and Larry Nassar cases, there were somewhat plausible reasons concocted for an institutional cover-up.

Jerry Sandusky was a nationally known former defensive coordinator who earned notoriety for coaching linebackers.  For that, he earned the nickname, "the Dean of Linebacker U." Sandusky retired from PSU in 1999 and went on to work full time at his charity, The Second Mile.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General alleged that PSU officials didn't report the retired Sandusky in 2001 for fear of hurting the University's reputation.   The NCAA piled on, alleging that PSU didn't report Sandusky in 2001 for fear it might hurt recruiting.

Those might have been plausible if not for the fact that three years earlier, in 1998, when Sandusky was a full-time assistant coach,  PSU did nothing to prevent or influence a police and child protective services investigation.   They let the investigation run its course.  A local DA, with no affinity for PSU, determined there was no basis for charges.  Child protective services determined Sandusky was not a threat or danger to children.

Larry Nassar was a rather famous gymnastics trainer who also was associated with the United States Olympic Team.  MSU touted Nassar's skills when it recruited athletes.  The media attempted to use those facts to allege a cover up by the East Lansing school.

The fact was, Nassar, like Sandusky, fooled everyone around them.  That included the police (twice) and an internal MSU investigation.    No one covered up for Nassar or Sandusky, they simply had no idea that what appeared to be medical treatment or horsing around were actually criminal acts.

The media has yet to come up with a reason or motivation for the cover-up.

In fact, the media has reported very little at all about the life and accomplishments of the alleged perpetrator, Strauss.

Who was Richard H. Strauss?

Dr. Strauss was well regarded in the sports medicine community.

The Physician and Sports Medicine, a journal that he served as editor-in-chief of for 13 years announced his death in 2005, referring to him as an "Icon."

Strauss's obituary similarly mentioned his role as editor of the journal:

"After graduating from medical school, Strauss served as a Navy diving medical officer on a nuclear submarine, completed postgraduate work in pulmonary physiology and became a member of a hyperbaric research team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In 1975, he completed his residency in internal medicine at Rutgers University. During his career, he also was a team physician at Harvard University, an editor-in-chief of The Physician and Sports Medicine and a faculty member at Ohio State University, where he served as team physician both for OSU and for the U.S. wrestling team. He also was a member of the medical commission of the International Olympic Committee."

Strauss teamed with two other OSU doctors (Lanese and Malarkey), who were also editors-in-chief of The Physician and Sports Medicine to author a 1993 research paper titled "Decreased Testosterone and Libido With Severe Weight Loss."  The paper was the result of a two year study of collegiate wrestlers and their ability to maintain normal testosterone levels/endocrine function while "cutting weight."   From the abstract:

"A college wrestler's weight, body brief fat, and hormone levels were measured during 2 years of competition. Marked weight loss during the initial season was associated with lower serum levels of testosterone and several other hormones, as well as a decrease in reported sexual activity. All values returned to normal after the season. The following year, with less weight loss, the wrestler had only a transient decrease in testosterone and prolactin and reported no decline in sexual activity. Body fat greater than 5% seemed essential to maintaining normal endocrine function."

Strauss, Lanese, and Malarkey authored a similar paper in 1985 based on a study of amateur wrestlers.  It's summary stated:

"Levels of nine serum hormones, six skin-fold sites, and body weight were measured in 19 male amateur wrestlers during their competitive season and again two months after the season. Percent of body fat was estimated from skin-fold thicknesses. Body weight, body fat, testosterone level, and prolactin level were significantly lower during the wrestling season. Low serum testosterone levels were significantly correlated with low body fat, large loss of body fat, and large weight loss. These findings suggest that the dietary restriction practiced by some wrestlers may affect serum testosterone levels adversely."

Based on the above, it appears that Strauss conducted legitimate research on wrestlers related to testosterone levels and to make a diagnosis of low testosterone a blood test, combined with examination of the size of the male genitalia, the amount of body hair, and other questions related to sexual activity was conducted.

DiSabato wrestled at OSU from 1987 to 1991.

That time frame fits the window for numerous studies of the health of wrestlers and other athletes that were conducted by Strauss and Lanese.

Among the allegations made by wrestlers was that:

"....Strauss fondled them during medical exams and ogled naked young men, sometimes showering among athletes multiple times a day for no apparent reason or perching himself on a stool to stare."

Strauss's behavior, in most respects, appears consistent with the research he and Lanese were conducting at the time.

The "had to know/blind eye" political hit-job 

There is no evidence of a report against Strauss and no alleged motive for covering up his abuse, but the media can't help itself from the narrative it's fallen in love with....

...Congressmen Jim Jordan "had to know" and "turned a blind eye" to abuse.

Just like the media was in love with the narrative that Joe Paterno "had to know" and "turned a blind eye" to abuse.

Many opined the Paterno "knew everything that went on in the Penn State football program."  He was the head football coach after all, they reasoned.

As the facts through the years have revealed,  the Sandusky scandal was a political hit job and the media fell for the outrageous allegation that Paterno was told of  a child being anally raped in the locker room.

That allegation was completely dismantled in December 2011 and further shattered at the Sandusky trial in June 2012.

But they didn't learn their lesson in 2011 and 2012.

Once again, they sucked up a patently false CNN report (in 2017) of a child being told by his foster parents to directly call Joe Paterno -- not the police -- about being raped by Sandusky.  Neither the child or his foster parents called the police to report the rape after he was allegedly rebuffed by Paterno.

What does that say for the media's ability to reason and use common sense?

Even though Jordan was only an assistant wrestling coach, he has name recognition and so he's the one on the hot seat.  Apparently,  Jordan, like the media version of Paterno, was the go to person at OSU to report abuse allegations.

Jordan is also being blamed for not stopping the similarly outrageous (alleged) conduct of OSU faculty members who went to Larkin Hall to masturbate or have overt sex while ogling the wrestlers while in the showers.

Again, why didn't one of the wrestlers report this lewd conduct to the police?  Or say anything about it until now?

The allegations in the OSU case have gone from being akin to UVa hoax to being akin to the McMartin Pre-School case.

What are the chances the media will connect those dots?
Slim to none.

Interestingly, NBC executives didn't face the "had to know" allegations when Matt Lauer was fired for his serial sexual harassment of women there. 

NBC denied allegations from former Today Show host, Ann Curry , who "warned managers about Lauer" in 2012.  Curry also alleged a "pervasive verbal sexual harassment" at the network.

And, it comes as no surprise that NBC's internal investigation found no direct evidence of executives being told about Lauer's misconduct.

No one at NBC turned a blind eye.
No NBC executive lost their job.
There was no sweeping allegations of a "culture" issue affecting NBC.

The investigation at OSU

OSU also hasn't rushed to judgment to condemn the athletics department.  Nor has it made commitments to compensate the accusers or offer them counseling.

So far, so good.

And unlike the sham investigations at PSU, the University of North Carolina and Baylor, it doesn't appear there is a pre-determined outcome.   Moreover, OSU asked law enforcement to assist in the investigation and the Attorney General has offered the assistance of its Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

When the Charlottesville police became involved in the investigation of "Jackie's" allegations, it could find no evidence to support them.

Based on what has become public so far, this looks like UVa on steroids.