Supreme Court Rejects Ohio State University’s Attempt To Shut Down Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

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James Lynch Contributor
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The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rejected Monday Ohio State University’s attempt to dismiss lawsuits brought by the alleged sexual abuse victims of a longtime school doctor.

SCOTUS refused to consider Ohio State’s appeal of a lower court ruling from the Cincinnati-based U.S. Sixth Circuit permitting victims to sue despite Ohio’s statute of limitations, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Supreme Court Throws Out Decision Preventing South Carolina From Defunding Planned Parenthood)

Ohio State physician Richard Strauss worked with students and student-athletes from 1978-98 and allegedly abused hundreds of students under the guise of medical examination, the school said in its petition to SCOTUS.

The school hired law firm Perkins Coie in 2018 to conduct an independent investigation of Strauss’ alleged misconduct after a former men’s wrestler came forward about alleged sexual abuse committed by Strauss.

A year later, Ohio State released a 182-page report from Perkins Coie detailing the investigation and its findings showing that at least 177 students were sexually abused by Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005.

Ohio State has settled lawsuits with 296 survivors of Strauss’ alleged abuse and paid more than $60 million in the process. The university has also paid for counseling and other medical treatment for survivors.

The Circuit Court ruling reversed a 2o21 decision by a federal judge dismissing lawsuits against Ohio State for Strauss’ alleged sexual abuse because of Ohio’s statute of limitations. (RELATED: Supreme Court Rules 8-1 Against Union Bosses Seeking To Dodge Liability For Property Damage)

“At the time of the abuse, they were teenagers and young adults and did not know what was medically appropriate,” said Judge Karen Moore. “Strauss gave pretextual and false medical explanations for the abuse.”

“Similarly, many believed that Ohio State would not have made Strauss the athletic team doctor unless his examinations were legitimate, and thus, that the conduct was medically appropriate even if it was uncomfortable,” Moore added.

Ohio State is being sued by a group of 100 former students led by Steven Snyder-Hill under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The law prohibits sex-based discrimination by schools that receive funding from the federal government.

“Justice has prevailed,” Snyder-Hill said, according to NBC4. “Colleges are not going to be able to cover up and lie about sexual assault then turn around and tell you it is too late.”

Ohio State said in its SCOTUS appeal that the 6th Circuit’s ruling means “there is essentially no limit on the stale claims that could be brought,” Reuters reported.

“Our deepest gratitude goes to the survivors of Strauss’ abuse for their courage in coming forward. They brought this terrible abuse to light, and the university is committed to continuing to work toward restorative justice,” Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson has said.

Similar sexual abuse scandals have led to major settlements by the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California and the University of California school system.