Ohio State to pay nearly $41 million settlement to 162 men sexually abused by team doctor

Ohio State will pay a $40.9 million settlement to resolve 12 lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse by Richard Strauss, a longtime athletics doctor at the school. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ohio State University announced Friday that it will pay a $40.9 million settlement to 162 men to resolve 12 lawsuits that stemmed from sexual abuse by Richard Strauss, a longtime athletics doctor at the school. 

In 2018, Ohio State opened an independent investigation into allegations centered on the conduct of Strauss, who worked at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998 and died by suicide in 2005 at age 67. The university later determined that Strauss abused students throughout his tenure at OSU and that the administration “failed to appropriately respond.”

In March, OSU announced a settlement with some of the individuals who sued the school for its failure to address concerns raised about Strauss’ conduct. The school said Friday that all of those who brought claims have “signed on to terms of the settlement.” 

The funds from the settlement will “vary by individual” as awarded by the independent arbiter who oversaw the settlement process and will be “allocated on an individual basis based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor,” the school said. As part of the settlement terms, all plaintiffs will dismiss their claims against Ohio State. 

“The university of decades ago failed these individuals – our students, alumni and members of the Buckeye community,” Ohio State President Michael V. Drake said in a statement. “Nothing can undo the wrongs of the past, but we must do what we can today to work toward restorative justice. Our focus will always be on the survivors. We know it took great courage for them to come forward, and we are grateful.”

Investigation: At least 177 former students abused

Ohio State first announced its investigation into Strauss in April 2018. A month later, the school revealed that its investigative team “received confidential reports from former Ohio State varsity men student-athletes affiliated with cheerleading, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, swimming, volleyball and wrestling.”

Once the year-long investigation concluded, a report conducted by an independent law firm detailed acts of sexual abuse against at least 177 former OSU students

“Students openly discussed Strauss’ examination methods or complained about his loitering presence in the shower and locker room, including in front of coaches and other Athletics Department staff,” the report says. “Many of the students felt that Strauss’ behavior was an ‘open secret,’ as it appeared to them that their coaches, trainers and other team physicians were fully aware of Strauss’ activities, and yet few seemed inclined to do anything to stop it.”

The report later concludes that university personnel “had knowledge of Strauss’ sexually abusive treatment of male student-patients as early as 1979” and that “complaints about Strauss’ conduct were not elevated beyond the Athletics Department of Student Health until 1996.”

The report said Strauss abused students at the student health center, his off-campus clinic and his home. In all, there were around 1,500 allegations made against Strauss. 

Additional lawsuits against Ohio State related to Strauss are still pending. 

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