A federal judge has, according to the Associated Press, dismissed some of the biggest remaining lawsuits over Ohio State University’s failure to stop decades of sexual abuse by now-deceased team doctor Richard Strauss, who abused at least 177 male students.
Since 2018, roughly 400 men and one woman have sued Ohio State over its failure to stop Strauss’s abuse after they raised concerns with school officials during his two-decade tenure. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson wrote in one ruling that many “turned a blind eye to Strauss’s exploitation” of students. “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.” However, Watson said he agreed with Ohio State’s argument that the two-year legal window for claims under the federal Title IX law had passed. The legal path forward is at the statehouse, not courts, Watson said, urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would make it easier for victims to sue the university.
An investigative report released in 2019 found that administrators, coaches and students were aware of Strauss’s actions — which included fondling athletes’ genitals, performing sex acts on them and making lewd comments during exams — but failed to act. In 2020, Ohio State University announced that it had entered into a $40.9 million settlement with 162 survivors involved in 12 lawsuits related to the abuse by Strauss. The Associated Press reported in total, the university has reached settlement agreements with more than 230 survivors.