Ohio State Settles 11 Strauss Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
The settlement funds will be distributed by an independent special master who is trained in sex abuse trauma.
Ohio State University (OSU) announced Friday it has settled 11 of 18 lawsuits filed by approximately 350 male victims of former university physician Richard Strauss.
OSU did not disclose the amount of the settlements but said the terms will be revealed as the legal process moves forward, reports NBC News. The settlements involve nearly half of the victims.
A report released by OSU in May 2019 following an independent investigation found school officials knew of at least 177 students who were sexually abused by Strauss from 1978 to 1998. The abuse included nearly 1,500 acts of fondling and more than 40 rapes. The majority of the victims were affiliated with the athletics department where Strauss worked as a team doctor for several sports.
Similarly, in 2018, Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with 332 women and girls who allege they were sexually assaulted by former sports doctor Larry Nassar. The terms of the deal included $425 million paid to current claimants and $75 million set aside in case additional lawsuits are filed against the school.
The OSU settlement funds will be distributed by an independent special master, who is trained in sex abuse trauma, “on an individual basis based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor” and will come from “existing institutional discretionary funding,” outgoing OSU President Michael V. Drake wrote in a press release.
“Strauss’ conduct was reprehensible, and the university’s failures at the time are completely unacceptable,” Drake continued. “While nothing can undo what happened here years ago, today’s university has a responsibility to support our former students and alumni, and this initial settlement is another important step in the process of restorative justice.”
Negotiations between the school and Strauss victims have been ongoing since last year and have been overseen by a federal judge in Cincinnati.
“The bravery of our clients is humbling,” said Rick Schulte, an attorney for the plaintiffs who negotiated with the university. “We are pleased that Ohio State stepped forward and did the right thing. This settlement will help our clients move forward with the healing process.”
The announcement came a little more than a week after lawyers for half of the men asked a federal judge to intervene, complaining that “OSU has not participated in the mediation process in good faith,” according to Cleveland.com. Attorney Robert Allard, who represents 85 victims, said the claims of his victims are severe but the university would rather litigate its cases in court instead of negotiating.
Attorneys representing another 83 victims said they were excluded from negotiations that led to the settlement and that they are “extremely concerned that this is not a full and fair settlement for survivors.”
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