Ohio State University announced Friday that it had entered into a $40.9 million settlement with 162 survivors involved in 12 lawsuits related to sexual abuse by Richard Strauss, a physician employed by the university from 1978 to 1998. Strauss died in 2005.
A 2019 investigation by Ohio State found that Strauss abused at least 177 students during his time at the university and administrators failed to respond appropriately. Ohio State said in a statement it continues to negotiate with survivors of sexual abuse involved in remaining lawsuits “and remains committed to a resolution with plaintiffs, including a monetary resolution.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that at least 360 individuals have filed 23 lawsuits regarding abuse by Strauss and Ohio State’s lack of response. Scott Smith, a lawyer representing 85 plaintiffs in one of the unresolved lawsuits, called the $40.9 million settlement “woefully inadequate” and said it was dwarfed by a $500 million settlement Michigan State University reached with survivors of sexual abuse by the former university-employed physician Larry Nassar. Of that $500 million, $425 million was allocated for 332 plaintiffs, and $75 million was set aside for potential future claimants.
“Our clients are no different than those at Michigan State,” Smith told The Columbus Dispatch.
Rick Schulte, the lead negotiator for the plaintiffs who reached the settlement with Ohio State, said in a statement that lawyers worked with the university to "establish an independent confidential process to evaluate each claim individually. The process will account for wide variations in abuse and provide a pathway for survivor healing."
"One hundred percent of 162 survivors in this settlement decided against further litigation and agreed to participate," Schulte said. "The participation rate speaks to the quality of this settlement!"
Ohio State did not specify the source of the funds for the settlement but said no taxpayer, tuition or restricted donor funds will be used. Under the terms of the settlement, the participating plaintiffs will dismiss their claims against the university.