Ohio State agrees to pay $40.9M to victims of sexual abuser doctor

Dr. Richard Strauss
Dr. Richard Strauss

Ohio State University will pay out $40.9 million to settle 12 of 23 lawsuits brought against the university for its handling of Dr. Richard Strauss, who is accused of being a sexual predator during his two decades on campus.

OSU will pay an additional $500,000 for administrative costs.

Individual amounts paid to the 162 plaintiffs in the dozen cases will vary and will be determined by a special master. The university said no tuition, taxpayer or restricted donor funds will be used for the settlement.

RELATED: Report says OSU failed to act on reports of sexual misconduct; 177 students were abused

The university announced in March that it had reached a monetary settlement with nearly half of the men who had brought claims against OSU related to Strauss.

“The university of decades ago failed these individuals — our students, alumni and members of the Buckeye community. Nothing can undo the wrongs of the past, but we must do what we can today to work toward restorative justice,” Ohio State President Michael Drake said in a written statement.

Strauss worked as a university physician from 1978 to 1998. He died by suicide in California in 2005.

Parties in other pending lawsuits continue in mediation, the university said.

In April 2018, OSU launched an independent investigation after one survivor came forward.

In May 2019, law firm Perkins Coie issued a scathing 232-page report that concluded at least 177 male students had been abused by Strauss and administrators knew about the misconduct but failed to report it to law enforcement.

One athletic trainer told investigators that people who overlapped with Strauss for any significant time would have to have their “ears plugged, eyes shut, and mouth closed to not realize something was off.”

His abuse of students included fondling, making them strip under the guise of medical assessments and asking probing questions about their sex lives — abuse that escalated over time, the report said.

RELATED: DeWine orders medical board to review 25 years of sex abuse cases

One student reported that Strauss performed oral sex during an exam.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, worked as an assistant wrestling coach while Strauss served as team doctor. Jordan has denied knowledge of any abuse. The Perkins Coie report did not name lower level coaching staff.

In August 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the state medical board to review some 1,500 cases over the past 25 years where physicians were accused of sexual misconduct but the cases were closed without discipline. That order came after the DeWine administration found a 1996 investigation of Strauss fell into a “black hole” at the state board.

A spokeswoman for the board said the review is about half done.