Ohio State doc’s accusers: End mediation, proceed with suits
Columbus, Ohio – Some of the men suing Ohio State over decades-old sexual abuse by the late team doctor Richard Strauss are asking a judge to let the litigation resume because months of mediation haven’t yielded a settlement.
Lawyers for nearly half of the roughly 350 accusers who have sued wrote to U.S. District Judge Michael Watson on Monday, arguing that the university has “refused to engage in productive settlement talks” and hasn’t participated in good faith.
“Our clients deserve an opportunity to be heard,” they wrote. “They have been psychologically traumatized not only by Strauss’s abuse but by OSU’s ongoing indifference and betrayal.”
Some of the survivors accusing their alma mater of dragging its feet in negotiations say their mental and physical health has suffered as the cases linger on, and at least one of the plaintiffs died during that time.
Ohio State officials have issued public apologies to those harmed by Strauss and insist they are pursuing a “monetary resolution” in the private mediation.
“We are actively participating in good faith in the mediation process directed by the federal court and remain committed to a fair outcome, including a monetary resolution,” university spokesman Benjamin Johnson said by email.
An investigation conducted for Ohio State by a law firm concluded Strauss abused athletes and other young men throughout his two decades there in his work with campus athletics, a health center and an off-campus clinic.
The university has acknowledged school officials failed to prevent and investigate the abuse during the doctor’s tenure despite knowing about concerns and receiving complaints about his behavior. But Ohio State’s earlier legal responses to the lawsuits contended that the men’s federal claims were time-barred by law and should be dismissed.
The plaintiffs have argued the clock didn’t start on those claims until the wave of accusations first arose nearly two years ago, and their lawyers want the court to proceed in considering that statute of limitations issue. They said in their letter to the judge that they don’t believe the university will take their claims seriously until the court considers that issue and rejects OSU’s arguments.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers have been considering a proposal that would enable Strauss accusers to sue the university under state law instead.
Strauss died in 2005. His family expressed shock at the allegations, but no one has publicly defended him.
The investigation and related legal costs already have cost the school about $10 million.
The Ohio State accusers’ push to move on from mediation comes as two other Big Ten schools deal with fresh allegations of decades-old sexual abuse against male students. Allegations made about a sports doctor at the University of Michigan have striking similarities to the Strauss claims. The University of Minnesota is investigating allegations about a former men’s hockey assistant.