Court revives lawsuits vs. OSU over sexual abuse

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal appeals court ruling on Wednesday reinstated unresolved decades-old sexual abuse lawsuits against The Ohio State University by the late team doctor Richard Strauss.

District Judge in Columbus Most of the unsolved cases were dismissed., acknowledging that hundreds of youths were abused but agreeing with the university’s argument that the statute of limitations for claims had long passed. The plaintiffs argued that the clock did not start until the allegations came to light in 2018, and that their cases should be allowed to continue.

Two of the three judges on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that heard the case concluded in Wednesday’s ruling that the men had “allegedly alleged a decades-long cover-up” and ” Sufficiently alleged that he did not know and could not reasonably have done so. Turns out Ohio State injured him in 2018.

“Ohio State is a vast institution, and the plaintiff’s allegations indicate how difficult it is for a student to know what appropriate individuals within the Ohio State administration knew,” Judge Karen Nelson-Moore wrote in the decision. .

Lead plaintiff Steve Snyderhill said it was a “huge order” for survivors, who believe it could affect other sexual misconduct cases at universities.

“Our attorney argued that if OSU had gotten away with what they were trying to do here with the motion to throw the statute of limitations, they would have paved the way and allowed all these other universities to do the same. would have given a playbook. That’s what they did, and I’m glad this court saw that and didn’t let it happen,” Snyder Hill said.

Judge Ralph B. Guy Jr. dissented, writing that the clock on the claims had run out decades ago and that the court’s decision “would have effectively nullified any statute of limitations for Title IX claims based on sexual harassment.” Is.”

Ohio State is reviewing the decision, university spokesman Benjamin Johnson said via email.

Hundreds of former student-athletes and other alumni say Straus abused them during his two decades at the school, and that Ohio State officials failed to stop him despite knowing about the complaints. The men alleged that Straus abused them during medical examinations, required physicals and other encounters at campus athletic facilities, the student health center, his home and off-campus clinics.

The doctor died in 2005. No one defended him publicly.

The university has reiterated its apology to anyone it harmed, and has reached more than $60 million with at least 296 survivors.

The school tried to dismiss the remaining lawsuits, saying it did not intend to disparage the men or their allegations but that the claims were made years too late. OSU’s attorney has argued that if the doctor’s behavior and Ohio State’s inaction during his tenure were as serious as alleged, the students knew enough that, legally, they had no recourse at that time. Inquiries should have been started.

Wednesday’s ruling said the appeals court could not say whether the plaintiffs’ “snippets of knowledge” prompted them to investigate further. That, the ruling said, is “a question of fact — one that is inappropriate to resolve at the motion to dismiss stage.”

Two groups of more than 100 survivors appealed the dismissal, contesting a two-year window for claims that didn’t begin until 2018, when the men began speaking out and the school hired a law firm to investigate. Until then, most of the plaintiffs did not recognize their experiences as abuse, and did not know that OSU’s indifference to students’ concerns allowed the abuse to continue for years, the men said during arguments on appeal. A lawyer said.

Strauss joined Ohio State in 1978 and was on the faculty and clinical staff. He was able to retire as Emeritus in 1998. School trustees revoked the honor three years ago.

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