The Ohio State University reached a settlement with survivors in 11 of the 18 lawsuits filed against the university over claims related to abuse by former university doctor Richard Strauss March 6.
The 11 lawsuits comprise almost half of the individuals who have made claims against Ohio State in regard to Strauss, according to an OSU news release.
The monetary amount to be paid to survivors who settled was not provided, but the release said funds will be allocated on an individual basis based on “the harm and damages experienced by each survivor.”
According to the release, the parties participated in a confidential mediation overseen by the federal court and will complete the final steps of the process in coming weeks. The university will proceed in a mediation process with the survivors who filed the outstanding seven lawsuits.
Strauss was employed by the university from 1978 to 1998 and died by suicide in 2005. An Ohio State crime report found he perpetrated almost 1,500 abuse incidents in the time he was employed at the university, including 1,429 incidents of fondling and 47 incidents of rape, with survivors enduring recurring abuse.
An independent investigation into allegations against Strauss, which was completed in May 2019 by law firm Perkins Coie, found at least 177 former students were abused by Strauss. It also found Strauss abused students for more than 20 years and the university administration failed to appropriately respond.
“Strauss’ conduct was reprehensible, and the university’s failures at the time are completely unacceptable,” said President Michael V. Drake in the release. “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.”
More details will be provided as the legal process surrounding the settlement moves forward, according to Ohio State. The university will not spend taxpayer, tuition or donor funds, and all funds issued to survivors will come from existing institutional discretionary funding.
“After extensive negotiations, we were able to reach a settlement on behalf of our clients,” said attorney Rick Schulte, lead negotiator for the plaintiffs’ firms, in the release. “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.”
Anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct while at Ohio State is encouraged to contact the Office of Institutional Equity, the university’s anonymous reporting service or law enforcement, according to the release.