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