Ohio State Sexual Assault Lawsuits Reinstated by Federal Appeals Court

Lawsuits claim Ohio State University knew or should have known about sexual assault by a former doctor in the athletics department, but did not report them to the police and did nothing to stop the abuse.

A federal appeals court has reinstated a number of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against Ohio State University, indicating that the claims brought by students who were abused by a former doctor in the athletics department were wrongly dismissed under statute of limitation laws.

According to allegations raised in the complaints, Richard Strauss sexually groped young male athletes and other patients during examinations, while working for the University. The students maintain that concerns about the abusive behavior were raised with Ohio State University, but the allegations were covered up for years, and not adequately disclosed to students and former patients.

In 2020 and 2021, two separate Ohio State sexual abuse settlements were reached, resulting in agreements to pay more than $60 million to resolve certain claims. However, a federal judge dismissed all unsettled cases, claiming the victims waited too long under the Ohio statute of limitations to file the claims.

The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision on Wednesday, agreeing with plaintiffs that they were unaware that the University had possibly known about the abuse until 2018, and allowing the lawsuits to move forward.

Strauss, who died in 2005, was removed from his position as a physician in the Department of Athletics and Student Health Services in 1996, and his actions were reported to the State Medical Board of Ohio that same year. However, the university never reported his actions to the police or fully disclose the widespread allegations.

More than 200 former students say they were molested by Strauss during his time at the Ohio State University.

The school was also involved in another sexual abuse class action lawsuit filed against USA Diving, which was brought in July 2018 on behalf of 50 individuals who claim that Will Bohonyl, a former OSU diving coach and gynecologist, regularly sexually assaulted female athletes. Bohonyl pled guilty to sexual battery charges and was sentenced to four years in prison in August 2019.


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