COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — To settle lawsuits by about two dozen more survivors over decades-old sexual abuse by a now-deceased team doctor, Richard Strauss, Ohio State University will pay $5.8 million — bringing the total settlements so far to $46.7 million for 185 survivors, the university announced Tuesday.
Nearly 400 men have sued the university over its failure to stop Strauss during his two-decade tenure, despite students raising concerns with various school officials as far back as the late 1970s. The claims by more than half of those accusers remain pending in federal court. Many say they were groped during exams at campus athletic facilities, an off-campus men’s clinic or Strauss’ home.
Top OSU officials have apologized for what happened with Strauss and have said the school is working toward “restorative justice” and is committed to a “monetary resolution” for remaining plaintiffs.
Twenty-three survivors will receive a share of the newest settlements, with payments varying based on the harm they experienced. The university has indicated settlement money will come from discretionary funds, not tuition or taxpayer or donor funds.
Attorney Rick Schulte, who represented some of the plaintiffs and helped negotiate the announced agreements, said in a university news release that the settlement process was fair, and he praised Ohio State for doing “the right thing.”
But some of Strauss’ loudest accusers from the ongoing lawsuits don’t see it that way. They have argued that the university hasn’t negotiated fairly with them — which the school denies — and that they deserve compensation more comparable to other major sexual abuse scandals in higher education, such as Michigan State’s $500 million settlement for the 500-plus female victims of imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar.
By contrast, the Strauss settlements so far average just over $252,000 per survivor. The university hasn’t said how much of that goes to the attorneys involved.
Strauss died in 2005. No one has publicly defended him since an ex-wrestler first brought the allegations to light more than two years ago.