by Todd DeFeo
Ohio State University said it has reached settlements with parties in 11 of 18 lawsuits filed against the school related to accused sex abuser Richard Strauss, but the agreements do not require taxpayer funds.
The lawsuits represent “nearly half of the individuals who have brought claims against the university,” the school said in a news release.
The settlements did not use taxpayer, tuition or donor funds, according to the release. Funds come from existing institutional discretionary funding.
“Strauss’ conduct was reprehensible, and the university’s failures at the time are completely unacceptable,” Ohio State President Michael V. Drake said in a news 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,” Drake added. “They have our sincere appreciation for coming forward. We know that this takes great courage. Without them, the truth would have remained unknown.”
A 1996 investigation into Strauss uncovered potential malfeasance, but no one with knowledge of the case worked to revoke Strauss’ license or notify authorities. Strauss resigned from Ohio State’s medical staff in 1994 and retired from the school in 1998 as a professor emeritus.
Following a year-long investigation by the Perkins Coie law firm, the university issued a 180-page report that concluded “university personnel at the time failed to adequately respond to or prevent Strauss’ abuse,” according to a news release.
Last year, Gov. Mike DeWine established a working group to explore the 1996 investigation. The governor called on the State Medical Board to examine sexual assault allegations against “licensed medical personnel that were investigated and closed without action” during the past quarter-century.
In January, the university confirmed an investigation into lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual abuse by Strauss cost $9.8 million.
The 11 settlements announced last week were reached after the parties participated in mediation overseen by a federal court. Ohio State officials said the school continues to participate in the mediation for the seven remaining lawsuits.
“After extensive negotiations, we were able to reach a settlement on behalf of our clients,” Rick Schulte, lead negotiator for the plaintiffs’ firms, said in a news 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.”
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Todd DeFeo is a regular contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Ohio State University” by Mike Berera CC4.0.