Judge dismisses cases against Ohio State University over sex abuse

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The Ohio State University campus remains empty while students move out as Thanksgiving break approaches, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Megan Jelinger

Sept 23 (Reuters) – A federal judge has dismissed cases brought by several former students against Ohio State University tied to the sexual abuse they said they suffered against former university athletics team doctor Richard Strauss.

Judge Michael Watson said it was indisputable that Strauss – who committed suicide in 2005 – had abused hundreds of young men.

But he granted OSU’s motion to dismiss on grounds that the statute of limitations had passed for victims to file a lawsuit, according to a court filing made Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The statute of limitations for criminal rape cases in Ohio is 20 years, NBC News reported.

Nearly 180 men who attended Ohio State University claimed they were sexually abused more than two decades ago by the doctor, and university staff who knew of the abuse failed to act, a report released by the school in May 2019 had said.

The plaintiffs are considering an appeal, lawyers representing them said in a statement cited by an NBC affiliate. The legal team said Watson’s ruling was “deeply disappointing”.

In March, the State Medical Board of Ohio reopened 91 sexual assault cases against physicians and other licensed medical professionals, according to a report on historic sex abuse cases.

The taskforce that produced the report was created by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in 2019 in response to the scandal involving Strauss. He left the university in 1998 and died by suicide in 2005.

The taskforce had identified 1,254 closed sexual impropriety cases going back 25 years and ultimately decided to treat 91 of those as active cases.

“The university has reached settlement agreements with more than 230 survivors and will continue to cover the cost of professionally certified counseling services and treatment for anyone affected by Strauss”, Ohio State University said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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