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Columbus Dispatch Reveals Alarming Rate of Doctor Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Ohio


A recent investigation by the publication, Columbus Dispatch, has revealed that the extent of sexual abuse and harassment committed by doctors on patients is much wider than was ever imagined. Their Preying on Patients series has revealed that hundreds of doctors have been disciplined for sexual misconduct. What’s more, reporters claim that not enough has been done to project the public from repeat abusers, despite the fact that this issue has been going on for decades. They stated that the state’s medical board has kept the findings of its investigations to itself, with only a small fraction of the allegations made being shared with the public.

Surprising Findings

During the investigation, reports Columbus Dispatch reporter Max Filby, the most surprising finding of their investigation was the number of doctors who had been discipline for sexual misconduct (there were 264 in total). Also shocking, he says, were the details. For instance, some patients made complaints that seem to have been left by the wayside. The best-known case on Ohio is evidently that of Dr. Richard Strauss, who was accused of sexually abusing at least 177 patients during his stay at Ohio State University. However, the Dispatch reports warn, he was just one of hundreds—and more could have been done to warn and protect members of the public from serial abusers and harassers. Victims were often forced to suffer in silence or never receive the justice they deserved. Only a lucky few were able to rely on the services of a sexual harassment lawyer. Many of those that relied on their case being dealt with on the basis of their complaint alone frequently got nowhere. In 2022, reforms were proposed, but it has yet to be reintroduced this year. This means that there are still holes that leave patients who are harassed vulnerable to misconduct.

The Investigation Propels Change

Despite the harrowing findings, the Dispatch’s investigation has had a positive outcome. Senate Bill 109, has been proposed by State Senator Bob Hackett. The bill is centered on protecting patients against potentially sexually abusive health professionals. It requires doctors who are on probation for sexual misconduct to notify their patients in writing—in order to keep patients in the loop. The bill closely follows an earlier senate bill (#322), which did not progress quite so far. State Senator Kent Smith addressed a judiciary committee, stating that he was surprised that these protections weren’t already in place. Hackett, meanwhile, spoke of the Richard Strauss case, calling it “an unthinkable tragedy” that affected Ohio citizens greatly. The bill is testimony to the power of investigative journalism, which often works to bridge gaps between societal issues and governmental change.

The Columbus Dispatch’s investigation into doctor sexual abuse and harassment in Ohio has exposed a distressing reality. Hundreds of doctors have been disciplined for sexual misconduct, and the public has not been adequately protected from repeat abusers. However, the Dispatch’s investigative team has prompted positive change, with Senate Bill 109 aiming to improve patient protection and accountability in healthcare.