Ohio State plans settlement program to resolve abuse claims from plaintiffs in team doctor misconduct case

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The Ohio State University has announced that it plans to establish a settlement program to help former patients of a former team doctor who allegedly sexually abused athletes.

Ohio State University is planning to create a settlement program to resolve sexual abuse claims from hundreds of ex-athletes due to the misconduct of team doctor Richard Strauss. Ohio State said in a statement that the program would include non-monetary benefits, such as immunizations and screening, for those affected by Strauss’ abuse. Strauss, who died in 2005, worked as an athletic department employee from 1978 to 1998 and is alleged to have committed sexual abuse against athletes from the mid-1970s to 1990s.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State University said Monday that it is planning a one-on-one settlement program that could help resolve other pending lawsuits over allegations of sexual misconduct by Richard Strauss, the team doctor accused of abusing hundreds of young men during his two decades at the university.

In court documents, the company said it plans to launch an individual settlement program this month for plaintiffs in five pending lawsuits and plans to pay out an average settlement amount of up to $252,000 per person. This is the average of the nearly $47 million paid to 185 plaintiffs.

The program could allow some of the remaining plaintiffs to settle their cases, though others say they will continue to litigate.

Attorney Rocky Ratliff, who represents some of the plaintiffs and is one of them himself, called the filings disgusting. He said the men who tried to hold the university accountable by speaking publicly about their experiences actually got less than the Strauss accusers who previously reached a settlement, and far less than the women who were hurt in the scandals surrounding sexual abuse of doctors at Michigan State and the University of Southern California.

When asked how he would respond to OSU’s offer, Ratliff said: No would be an understatement.

Ohio State has publicly apologized for the school board’s failure to arrest Strauss during his tenure, despite complaints against him. He undertook to pay financial compensation to those he had wronged.

Over the past three years, about 400 people have sued the university for failing to arrest Strauss, even though students had approached university officials as early as 1979. Many men reported being groped during the examinations.

Strauss died in 2005. No one publicly defended him after the allegations came to light.

Registration for the individual establishment program is open for the next four months. According to Representative Benjamin Johnson of Ohio, it will be led by the same person who oversaw previous settlements on the issue.

Through the program, Ohio State is continuing its efforts to reconcile with itself and its former students and alumni who were affected by Strauss and to engage them in the healing process, said Michael Carpenter, an attorney representing Ohio State, in a statement.

There is no word on how the plans for the supplemental billing program came about or why it is being proposed now, and Johnson said he could not provide that information.

An investigation by a law firm on behalf of the school found that Strauss’ sexual misconduct, under the guise of medical care, spanned his two decades at the school and his work for various sports teams, the student health center and his off-campus clinic.

Last month, 23 new plaintiffs sued Ohio State, including the first woman to sue Strauss. The unnamed plaintiff, who attended Ohio State from 1994 to 1998, alleges that Strauss once excessively groped her during an exam.

The individual settlement program does not include these new plaintiffs, Johnson said.

But Richard Schulte, an attorney for the plaintiffs in those cases and for the plaintiffs who previously reached a settlement, said he believes the university wants to satisfy everyone who has been harmed by Dr. Strauss.

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