Ohio State responds to lawsuits concerning Strauss misconduct
University files motions to dismiss, remains committed to appropriately addressing factual findings of independent investigation when it concludes
The Ohio State University today filed motions to dismiss three lawsuits based on statute of limitations grounds. The lawsuits were filed against the university earlier this year in relation to sexual misconduct allegations against Dr. Richard Strauss, a physician employed by the university from the late-1970s to the 1990s. He died in 2005.
“While the university is responding to the legal claims filed against it, as it must, Ohio State’s motions to dismiss are not directed towards plaintiffs’ claims of injury,” said Michael Carpenter of Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP. “As stated in the motions to dismiss, ‘Ohio State is not ignoring or being dismissive of plaintiffs’ factual allegations.’”
In the filings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the university’s lawyers noted that the plaintiffs claimed legal rights and remedies under Title IX, and argued that such claims are time-barred because the statute of limitations for Title IX claims in Ohio is two years. Taken together, the lawsuits allege the plaintiffs were abused by Strauss when they were at Ohio State and between the years 1978 to 1998.
Following receipt of a complaint about Strauss, which was reported to the university in March 2018, Ohio State announced it was retaining independent investigators to oversee an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Strauss and into what the university knew about the allegations at the time.
Approximately 150 former students to date have reported firsthand accounts of physical sexual misconduct committed by Strauss to Perkins Coie LLP, which is conducting a wide-ranging independent investigation into the matter.
An update on the investigation last week shared that more than 335 former students and university staff believed to have information concerning sexual misconduct allegations related to Strauss have been interviewed. Investigators at Perkins Coie remain in regular communication with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
The university said in today’s filings: “In furtherance of their determination to understand what occurred, and who knew about it at the time, Ohio State and its current leaders continue to encourage persons possessing information related to Dr. Strauss to contact the investigators. That independent investigation continues and Ohio State remains committed to appropriately addressing its factual findings, whatever they may be.”
Ohio State continues to encourage anyone with information about Strauss’ conduct to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The identity of those who contact Perkins Coie will be treated with the utmost confidence and sensitivity permitted by law, and individuals may report anonymously if they wish.
The university has established a website that houses comprehensive information about the ongoing independent investigation and resources for people who have experienced sexual misconduct.
The Columbus law firm of Carpenter Lipps & Leland has been retained by Ohio State to handle litigation concerning the three lawsuits filed against the university by former students. Ohio State’s handling of the litigation is entirely separate from the ongoing independent investigation that is being conducted by Perkins Coie.