Ohio State, 162 survivors finalize $40.9 million settlement in Strauss case
University continues mediation with remaining plaintiffs, is committed to fair resolution
The Ohio State University announced today details of a $40.9 million settlement reached with 162 survivors in 12 lawsuits related to sexual abuse by Richard Strauss, a university-employed physician from 1978 to 1998 who died in 2005.
An independent investigation launched by the university determined in 2019 that Strauss abused students during his time at Ohio State and the university administration failed to appropriately respond at the time.
In March, Ohio State announced a monetary settlement with nearly half of the individuals who brought claims against the university related to Strauss. All have now signed on to the terms of the settlement.
Ohio State continues to participate in good faith in the mediation process with the survivors involved in the remaining lawsuits, and remains committed to a resolution with plaintiffs, including a monetary resolution.
“The university of decades ago failed these individuals – our students, alumni and members of the Buckeye community,” said President Michael V. Drake. “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.”
The Qualified Settlement Fund to be funded by Ohio State totals $40,913,265. Amounts received by survivors will vary by individual as awarded by the special master. As part of the agreement, Ohio State will provide up to $500,000 to fund the costs of administering the fund. No taxpayer, tuition or restricted donor funds will be utilized.
Under the agreement, all of the participating plaintiffs will dismiss their claims against the university.
Rick Schulte, lead negotiator for the plaintiffs’ firms, stated, “Working with Ohio State, we established 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. The participation rate speaks to the quality of this settlement!”
Funds in the settlement will be allocated on an individual basis based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor. A special master, independent of the university and experienced in the area of sexual trauma claim evaluation, will oversee the settlement process. A three-person panel of experts selected by Ohio State, plaintiffs’ counsel and the special master will assist in the evaluation of the claims.
“The process of administering these settlement funds must occur without university input,” said Katherine Lasher, associate vice president for institutional equity and member of the university’s national Task Force on Sexual Abuse. “Instances of large-scale sexual abuse are, tragically, far too prevalent across our national landscape. Ohio State is dedicated to an independent approach that has proven to be effective and impartial.”
The Strauss matter was brought to light after the university launched and announced publicly an independent investigation of Strauss’ abuse after one survivor came forward in April 2018. After a year-long investigation by the independent law firm Perkins Coie, the university released a 180-page report in May 2019 that detailed acts of sexual abuse against at least 177 former students. The report concluded that university personnel at the time failed to adequately respond to or prevent Strauss’ abuse. Ohio State also released all relevant public records on the university’s Strauss investigation website.
As part of the Perkins Coie investigation, the university reached out broadly to 115,000 alumni and former student-athletes who attended Ohio State during Strauss’ employment and to 147,000 current students, faculty and staff to inform them of the investigation and encourage them to share any information they had with the independent investigators. The university kept the community informed throughout the course of the investigation, creating a website for documents and updates, providing periodic public reports on the progress and publishing the findings of the independent investigation and all relevant public records online.
Since February 2019, Ohio State has covered the cost of professionally certified counseling services and treatment for anyone affected by Strauss, whether counseling and treatment occurred in the past or is needed at any point in the future. To connect with these services, or if individuals are at all uncertain about how to proceed and have questions, please contact Praesidium at 888-961-9273 or visit https://website.praesidiuminc.com/wp/osu/.
The university continues to commit resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct. Read more on these efforts — including policies, programs, staffing and tools — here.
Anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct while at Ohio State — and the incident involved another student or university employee — is encouraged to report to the Office of Institutional Equity, the university’s anonymous reporting service or law enforcement.
Those who have experienced sexual misconduct outside of Ohio State should contact local law enforcement. Additional resources include:
- If you reside in the Columbus, Ohio, area, advocates from SARNCO can assist you in reporting, explain the investigation process and support you. SARNCO’s confidential, 24/7 support hotline is 614-267-7020.
- If you do not reside in the Columbus area, you can contact the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, a confidential, 24/7 resource, at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). You can also visit the website to chat live with a representative. Advocates will help you find a resource in your community.
Current Ohio State students seeking additional support services can contact the Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service while faculty and staff can access support resources through the Employee Assistance Program.