May 17 (UPI) -- A former Ohio State University doctor sexually abused at least 177 former students over two decades, an independent investigatory report released Friday concludes.
The report, conducted over the course of a year by law firm Perkins Coie LLP, said Dr. Richard Strauss abused the students during his time with the school from 1978 to 1998. He worked as a physician both in the Department of Athletics and Student Health Services.
Strauss, who died in 2005, was allowed to voluntarily retire in 1998 after the allegations were reported to the state medical board in 1996.
Former students said the abuse included instances in which Strauss asked probing and seemingly unnecessary questions about students' sexual histories, or required them to strip completely naked for examinations. He also allegedly fondled male students' genitals to cause arousal.
The law firm said Ohio State failed to report allegations made against Strauss to local law enforcement.
"On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss' abuse," university President Michael Drake said. "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."
The findings of the investigation came nearly a year after Perkins Coie LLP said its initial investigation found that some 100 former students -- and patients at Strauss' private practice -- reported abuse. Three groups of plaintiffs have sued the university over its failure to report the abuse.
Ohio State said it has started a process to revoke the faculty emeritus status in conferred upon Strauss in 1998. The school also plans to cover the cost of professional counseling for those who accused Strauss of abuse.
Meanwhile, the school has implemented new abuse reporting protocols, cut off public access to locker rooms and training facilities, and is providing student-athletes with access to multiple physicians.
"As Ohio State Buckeyes, we all play a role in responding to and preventing sexual misconduct and abuse," Drake said. "It is our collective responsibility to remain ever-vigilant and work to ensure that this can never happen again."