Twenty-three survivors who say they were sexually abused by late former Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss reached a $5.8 million settlement associated with five lawsuits against the university.
The settlements average approximately $252,000 per survivor, as did the first settlement with 162 survivors, according to a news release from the university in Columbus Oct. 13.
The first settlement round was reached in March to resolve lawsuits that comprised almost half of those who filed lawsuits against the university, and the second round adds to that amount.
To date, the university has settled with 185 survivors, represented by 10 different law firms, for a total settlement of $46.7 million. No taxpayer, tuition or restricted donor funds are utilized for these settlements, the university said.
“The university has condemned Strauss’ reprehensible conduct and expressed its appreciation to survivors for coming forward,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson in the release. “Our work toward restorative justice continues.”
Strauss was employed by the university from 1978 to 1998. An Ohio State crime report found he perpetrated almost 1,500 abuse incidents in the time he was employed at the university, including 1,429 incidents of fondling and 47 incidents of rape, with survivors enduring recurring abuse.
A May 2019 independent investigation into the allegations found at least 177 former students were abused by Strauss over 20 years, and the university administration failed to appropriately respond.
The number of survivors involved in the lawsuits suggests more students may have been affected.
Strauss died by suicide in 2005.
The new settlements will be administered like the first: funds 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, the release said. In addition, all of the participating plaintiffs will dismiss their claims against the university.
“Our ongoing negotiations with Ohio State have resulted in a fair settlement process that acknowledges the harm inflicted on individual survivors and provides a pathway to healing,” said Rick Schulte, lead negotiator for the plaintiffs’ firms in both settlements, in the release.
The mediation process between Ohio State and survivors involved in the remaining lawsuits continues, the release said.
“Nothing can ever fully repair the damage suffered long ago and trauma the victims continue to experience today,” Attorney General Dave Yost said in the release. “The current leadership at Ohio State should be commended for embracing its responsibility to do the right thing by those victimized by Richard Strauss.”