Some statutes of limitations should be removed

For months since the late Dr. Richard Strauss’ misdeeds at Ohio State University surfaced, people have wondered how he got away with it for so long. While serving as a doctor for OSU athletic teams during the 1990s, Strauss sexually abused hundreds of young men.

Some of them complained at the time, but no one at OSU took action. In fact, it appears some served as enablers for Strauss.

One, former OSU student health director Ted Grace, faces discipline from the state medical board for failing to report at least three complaints about Strauss. Reportedly, he lied to one student, telling him there had been no previous complaints about Strauss.

Grace has moved on. He now works at Southern Illinois University. Officials there will not comment.

His case brings up another question: He may lose his SIU job. He may be disciplined by the Ohio medical board. Is that all the punishment to be meted out to those who enabled Strauss?

Civil lawsuits have been filed against OSU — and in years past, other institutions where sexual abuse occurred — by those seeking both some compensation for their suffering and a measure of punishment to those who did nothing about it. In May, OSU revealed a $40.9 million settlement over lawsuits filed by 162 of Strauss’ victims.

But individuals such as Grace rarely have the deep pockets plaintiffs’ attorneys look for in filing such lawsuits. And all too often, state sex crime laws include statutes of limitations that prevent prosecution of those involving in offenses that occurred many years ago.

So, again, is punishment for enablers of predators such as Strauss to be limited to loss of jobs and, we hope, social and professional ostracism?

Some states, often in reaction to even more serious sex crimes in the past, have removed statutes of limitations on such offenses. All should do that. And, when possible, civil penalties should be levied against the enablers. Somehow, more ways need to be found to deter those who, with the power to stop predators such as Strauss, turn their backs on walk away.

By Paul Wager