Ohio State reached a settlement in 11 of the 18 lawsuits brought about by victims of deceased physician Richard Strauss, the university announced Friday.
The settlement – an undisclosed monetary amount – covers "nearly half" of the victims who have come forward, per the university. More than 350 plaintiffs have brought forward allegations against Strauss.
The lawsuits, along with the settlement announced on Friday, stem from Strauss' alleged sexual abuse of Ohio State athletes and students while working as a physician between 1978 and 1998 and the university's failure to respond to complaints about its employee. Ohio State, which launched an independent investigation in April 2018 after allegations of abuse were brought to light, found in May that "Strauss abused students for more than 20 years and the university administration failed to appropriately respond at the time." Strauss died by suicide in 2005.
“Strauss’ conduct was reprehensible, and the university’s failures at the time are completely unacceptable,” president Michael Drake said in a 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. Our focus has always been and remains on the survivors. They have our sincere appreciation for coming forward. We know that this takes great courage. Without them, the truth would have remained unknown.”
The money in the Strauss lawsuit settlement will not come from taxpayers, tuitions or donors, per Ohio State. Instead, it will be paid with "existing institutional discretionary funding."
“After extensive negotiations, we were able to reach a settlement on behalf of our clients,” attorney Rick Schulte, lead negotiator for the plaintiffs’ firms, said in a statement provided by Ohio State. “The bravery of our clients is humbling. 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.”
Of the 177 identified victims in Ohio State's independent investigation, 153 were student athletes. Broken down by sport, 48 of the victims were from the wrestling team, 16 from the gymnastics team, 15 from the swimming and diving team, 13 from the soccer team, 10 from the lacrosse teams, seven each from hockey, track and field and baseball teams, four each from cross country, volleyball and fencing teams, three each from tennis and football teams, and two each from cheerleading and golf teams.