George Clooney’s documentary on Strauss sexual abuse to premiere on HBO

George Clooney’s documentary on Richard Strauss, announced February 2021, has landed at HBO. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images via TNS

HBO picked up George Clooney’s feature documentary on Richard Strauss’ sexual abuse of Ohio State students and athletes during his time as a former athletics physician, according to a Tuesday announcement.

Clooney will work with Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures, 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated Studios with Academy and Emmy winner Eva Orner directing the film. The documentary will premiere on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max, but a release date has not yet been set.

The feature-length documentary is based on a story published in Sports Illustrated by Jon Wertheim in October 2020, detailing accusations against Strauss and experiences from a variety of Ohio State athletes and employees.

“Grant and I are very proud to be working on this project with HBO,” Clooney said in the release. “It’s a devastating story about people in power abusing and then covering up their criminal actions against students. The fact that it hasn’t been resolved as of yet is deeply disturbing.”

A university commissioned report released in 2019 revealed that at least 177 male students were abused by Strauss, and some university officials were made aware of the abuse as early as 1977. Strauss was a team doctor for 17 varsity sports and a physician at the Student Wellness Center from 1978-98 .

Strauss was suspended in 1996, but continued to abuse students at a private clinic until 1998. Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

Some survivors have already agreed to participate in the project, including Mark Coleman, a UFC Heavyweight Champion and former Ohio State athlete whose story was included in the Sports Illustrated article.

“I’m honored to join this incredible creative team. This film is about the largest sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education,” Orner said in the release. “It will give the courageous men who were abused a powerful and clear voice.”

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said in an email a variety of lawsuits against Ohio State have since been filed, and the university has reached settlement agreements with 286 survivors for $59.7 million.

Following the report’s findings, dozens of former students filed lawsuits against Ohio State for its handling of the abuse, but a court ruling dismissed the cases in September 2021 due to the statue of limitations. Ohio State settled with nearly 60 more victims in April in exchange for dropping the lawsuits, averaging around $35,000 for each victim.

Ohio State established the individual settlement program in May 2021 for individual plaintiffs to leave their lawsuits and be eligible for up to $252,551 under a five-tiered system, with additional money granted on a case-by-case basis.

Johnson said the university has attempted since 2018 to uncover and acknowledge the truth about Strauss’ abuse and its failure to prevent it.

“We offer our deepest regrets and apologies to all who experienced Strauss’ abuse,” Johnson said.

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