Ohio State Reaches Settlements With Half Of Richard Strauss Accusers
Ohio State University announced that it’s reached a monetary settlement with some of the men who have alleged sexual abuse by longtime doctor Richard Strauss. The size of that settlement has yet to be determined.
More than 350 people have joined lawsuits accusing Ohio State of knowing about and ignoring decades of abuse by Strauss.
Ohio State said in press release Friday that the school has settled with plaintiffs in 11 of the 18 lawsuits.
According to the unviersity, those settlements “represent nearly half of the individuals who have brought claims against the university.” The deals arose out of court-supervised mediation discussions between the university and accusers, and will likely be competed within the next few weeks.
“Strauss’ conduct was reprehensible, and the university’s failures at the time are completely unacceptable,” said President Michael V. Drake in a written statement. “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.”
Ohio State says that settlement funds will be distributed on an individual basis “based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor.” An independent and trauma-trained specialist will oversee the process, the university says, but that person has not yet been named.
In an emailed statement, plaintiff attorney Michael Wright writes, "Our clients are relieved that this process is coming to a fair resolution. No amount of money can change what they endured at the hands of Dr. Strauss. However, today’s settlement will allow our clients to bring this dark chapter to a close.
The university says that no taxpayer, tuition or donor funds will be used for the settlement, which instead will be drawn from the school’s existing discretionary funding.
Last month, Ohio State University’s Board Of Trustees passed a resolution that would allow a swift payment of any settlement reached with Strauss accusers. Chair Gary R. Heminger now has the power to approve those payments by himself, without the board’s sign-off.
Ohio State says it continues to participate in mediation with the remaining accusers. Some of the plaintiffs last month asked a judge to allow litigation to resume against the university, claiming that Ohio State "refused to engage in productive settlement talks.”
Brian Garrett was among the men calling for the end of mediation.
"The guys who haven't settled yet, we actually had significant abuse done to us, and we're willing to go all the way and all of us would love to see it to go to trial," Garrett says. "And we would love to see OSU exposed for the truth that occured."
Garrett says the holdouts believe they deserve a larger settlement than what Ohio State offered.
"We had sexual abuse and assault on the same magnitude as the Penn State and Michigan State people who were affected, and we feel that's the justice we deserve," Garrett says.
Lawyer Ed Vasquez, who represents Garrett and other class-action plaintiffs, said the group will work to secure "full compensation" for both themselves and other potential Strauss survivors who may emerge.
"In the meantime, we call on OSU to negotiate fairly and in good faith on behalf of our clients, all of the other victim groups in this case, and those who have yet to come forward," Vasquez said in a statement.
An independent investigation last year concluded that Ohio State officials knew about allegations against Strauss as early as 1979, but failed to properly respond.
Strauss worked at the university from 1978-1998. He died in 2005.