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Former Ohio State-Michigan Athletes Team Up To Stop Sexual Abuse

Dr. Richard Strauss
Associated Press

Ohio State team doctor Richard Strauss was able to sexually abuse athletes under the guise of medical care because many didn’t recognize the conduct as abuse. Former OSU lacrosse player Mike Avery said his abuse began with his first physical.

“I just, I was shocked,” Avery said. “As an 18-year-old kid I had no idea what to do but I thought this was part of the process. Clearly it was not, in fact I remember leaving the room I said to one of my teammates I feel like I’d just been assaulted.”

Former University of Michigan football player Chuck Christian had much the same experience with a team doctor there named Robert Anderson.

“As players we didn’t realize that what he was doing was wrong because we thought that if he was asking to do certain things or he wanted to do certain things to us, there was a medical reason for it,” Christian explains.

Avery and Christian are working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on an educational program to better recognize and report instances of abuse.

Part of the effort will be encouraging athletes to seek out a trusted adult, while also teaching coaches how to handle those reports. Avery said that would’ve been valuable for him and his peers.

“As an adult, looking back, it would have sure been great to have maybe a social worker, someone who has a background in sexual abuse, who is a point person on campus that we could’ve gone to that is aside from the athletic department,” Avery describes.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is hoping to have the program ready by this Fall.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.