CLEVELAND, Ohio — George Clooney is bringing the Ohio State sex abuse scandal to the small screen. The actor-director’s production company Smokehouse Pictures is teaming up with Sports Illustrated Studios and others on a docuseries based on SI executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim’s cover story that brought the story to a national audience last October.
“This article uncovers the most widespread sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education. It is a story about power, abuse, enabling and the hierarchy of college sports that had been concealed for far too long,” said Wertheim in a press release. “Because these courageous men made the decision to remain silent no longer, we can finally begin to hold the abuser, and those who were complicit in their silence, accountable for their actions — and inactions. With the help of 101 Studios, Authentic Brands Group and Smokehouse Pictures, their voices and stories — harrowing as they are — will be amplified.”
Added Clooney and his producing partner Grant Heslov, “We’re very pleased to partner with 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated in bringing this devastating and tragic story to light.”
Dr. Richard Strauss worked at the university in various roles in both student health and athletics from 1978-1996. During that time, he was accused of assaulting more than 350 former athletes and other men.
One of them was former Ohio State wrestler Mark Coleman, who would go on to become the UFC’s first heavyweight champion in 1997.
“We never thought a man could sexually abuse a man,” Coleman told Sports Illustrated. “We just played it off. We joked about it. But I don’t think we were really joking.”
A report by the law firm Perkins & Coie, hired by OSU to look into the allegations in 2018, determined Strauss abused at least 177 male students. The report also found the university knew about his actions as early as 1979 and failed to properly address them.
So far, Ohio State has settled 185 cases with survivors totaling $46.7 million, cleveland.com reported in October. Strauss killed himself in 2005.
It’s not yet known where or when the docuseries will air.