Testimony documents unsealed in lawsuit against OSU in Strauss case

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — In a sweeping legal victory for hundreds of men who have filed claims against the Ohio State University, a federal court in Columbus ordered the Amended Complaint in the Dr. Richard Strauss sex abuse scandal to be unsealed, revealing new evidence of a cover-up by the university. 

OSU had been arguing to keep the documents sealed for more than a year.

Strauss was a university-employed physician from 1978 to 1998 who died in 2005.

More than 300 men filed lawsuits claiming they were victims of Strauss.  The Amended Complaint alleges OSU “let a monster sexually abuse hundreds, perhaps thousands of young men…” and “at last count, 1,429 instances of fondling and 47 instances of rape” had been documented. 

Steven Snyder-Hill is a lead plaintiff in the case, and in 1995 he insisted the university take action against Strauss. At the time, Snyder-Hill says he was told he was the only victim. Until the documents were unsealed, Snyder-Hill told NBC4’s Colleen Marshall much of the evidence and testimony had to be concealed even from the plaintiffs.

“I mean its a double-edged sword,” he said. “It’s a vindication. It makes you feel good that you are finally able to not be lied to anymore. But it also hurts.  It’s like dumping salt into the wound realizing how badly you were lied to.”

The Amended Complaint includes revelations from the testimony of a half-dozen doctors who say the university knew about the claims of sexual abuse made by young male students over a twenty-year period. 

Scott Smith, the attorney for nearly a hundred of the Plaintiffs, claims OSU actively worked to conceal the abuse to protect the university’s reputation. Smith says the unsealed complaint “provides credibility and verification that what our clients have said all along is true, and most importantly that OSU knew and covered it up.” 

OSU actively concealed Dr. Strauss’s abuse by not attempting to identify the students Dr. Strauss harmed. Numerous OSU doctors confirmed that OSU took no action to identify the students victimized by Dr. Strauss. This enabled OSU to conceal the extent of Dr. Strauss’s abuse and how the university had enabled his predation.

Amended Complaint

In a statement, Ohio State University did not mention the impact of the newly unsealed documents, but repeated admissions that the university of the past made mistakes.

Since April 2018, Ohio State has led the effort to investigate and expose Richard Strauss’ abuse from decades ago and the university’s failure at the time to prevent it. Dr. Strauss died in 2005. We express our deep regret and apologies to all who experienced Strauss’ abuse.

In May 2020, Ohio State finalized a $40.9 million settlement with 162 survivors, and the university remains in active court-directed mediation with the remaining plaintiffs.

Since February 2019, Ohio State has been covering the cost of professionally certified counseling services and treatment for anyone affected, as well as reimbursing costs for preexisting counseling and treatment related to Strauss.

Much of the information in the recent court filings is covered in the independent Perkins Coie report, which was released in May 2019 and is available online here.

Ohio State is a fundamentally different university today and over the past 20 years, has committed substantial resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct. These actions include new policies, programs, staffing and tools throughout the university, including athletics and the medical center. They are summarized here.

Chris Davey, Interim Vice President for University Communications at The Ohio State University

The two sides were ordered to mediation.  There is no word yet on how the new unsealed revelations will impact those closed-door mediation sessions. 

Two months ago, Ohio State University announced it reached a $40.9 million settlement with 162 survivors in the Richard Strauss sexual abuse case. 

According to a release from OSU, the settlement was reached in 12 lawsuits related to sexual abuse by Strauss.

One week ago, the State Medical Board of Ohio provided an update on where they are in terms of implementing recommendations set forth by a task force Governor Mike DeWine put together to look into how the Dr. Richard Strauss investigation was handled.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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