The sexual misconduct scandal at Ohio State University involving a former team doctor, the late Richard Strauss, has grown in proportion in recent months as multiple civil lawsuits have been filed and the number of victim accusers has increased. But nailing down the exact number of accusers, or even a range, has been difficult as some lawyers represent groups whose members aren’t ready to go public.
Columbus reporter Kantele Franko has covered the scandal from the beginning and has deep sources within the community of accusers and lawyers. Because the lawyers have been tight-lipped about the mediation process, Franko stayed in touch with some of the plaintiffs even if they would talk only off the record. The subject of the growing number of accusers came up during one such conversation, and Franko started checking with some of the lawyers to try to confirm it, knowing that comparisons are being made to other cases, including the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State. Franko learned enough to prep a draft story ahead of confirmation, and when she finally received multiple confirmations and comment, she had the story ready to roll out: More than 300 accusers have come forward. The APNewsBreak was used by The Columbus Dispatch, Franko’s main competitor on the Strauss beat, and received wide play online with solid engagement on social media.