09/22 17:21 CDT Suits against Ohio State over sex abuse by doc are dismissed
Suits against Ohio State over sex abuse by doc are dismissed
By KANTELE FRANKO
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) --- A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed some of the
biggest remaining lawsuits over Ohio State's failure to stop decades-old sexual
abuse by now-deceased team doctor Richard Strauss, saying it's undisputable he
abused hundreds of young men but agreeing with OSU's argument that the legal
window for such claims had passed.
"For decades, many at Ohio State tasked with protecting and training students
and young athletes instead turned a blind eye to Strauss's exploitation," U.S.
District Court Judge Michael Watson wrote in one ruling. "From 1979 to 2018,
Ohio State utterly failed these victims. Plaintiffs beseech this Court to hold
Ohio State accountable, but today, the legal system also fails Plaintiffs."
Attorneys for at least some of the affected plaintiffs immediately vowed to
Roughly 400 men and one woman had sued the university since 2018 over its
failure to stop Strauss despite concerns they say were raised with school
officials during his two-decade tenure, as far back as the late 1970s. Many of
the accusers say they were fondled in medical exams at campus athletic
facilities, a student health center, his home and or an off-campus clinic.
The university has publicly and repeatedly apologized to those Strauss harmed
and has said it was committed to a "monetary resolution" for those Strauss
harmed. It previously reached nearly $47 million in settlements with 185
survivors -- an average of about $252,000 -- and separately offered an
individual settlement program that recently closed and that had drawn interest
from at least a few more plaintiffs.
In total, the university has reached settlement agreements with more than 230
survivors, OSU spokesperson Benjamin Johnson said by email Wednesday. He said
he couldn't provide details on the total sum of settlements or the average
settlement amount for those in the individual program.
Some of the men who'd been continuing the legal fight maintained that the
earlier settlements were too small and that they deserve compensation more
comparable to other recent sexual abuse scandals in higher education. They
point to Michigan State's $500 million settlement for 500-plus female victims
of imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar, and the University of Southern
California's $852 million settlement with more than 700 women who accused a
gynecologist of sexual abuse.
Unlike those cases, the Ohio State accusers can't confront Strauss, who died in
2005. Since his family's initial statement of shock after the allegations came
to light three years ago, no one has publicly defended him.
He had retired in 1998 with an unblemished employment file. Other records show
there was a state medical board investigation about Strauss in 1996, but he was
never disciplined. Current officials at the board say evidence of misconduct
was ignored in that case but that they can't determine now why his case was
closed back then.