Ohio State University will pay out $41 million to 162 men who say they were sexually abused by a longtime team doctor

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Ohio state
The Ohio State University's football stadium looms above neighboring basketball courts, Saturday, May 18, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

  • The Ohio State University will pay $40.9 million to settle lawsuits brought by 162 men who allege a former university team doctor sexually abused them.

  • An independent investigation in 2019 found that Dr. Richard Staruss sexually abused at least 177 students during his tenure from 1979 to 1997.

  • The investigation found that OSU personnel had knowledge of allegations against Strauss and repeatedly failed to act.

  • Strauss died by suicide in California in 2005.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Ohio State University announced on Friday it will pay out $40.9 million as part of a settlement of a combined series of lawsuits brought on by 162 men who said a team doctor who worked at the university for nearly two decades sexually abused them.

"The university of decades ago failed these individuals — our students, alumni and members of the Buckeye community," university President Michael V. Drake said in a statement. "Nothing can undo the wrongs of the past, but we must do what we can today to work toward restorative justice."

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the university and the combined 12 federal lawsuits against it announced they had reached a settlement in March, though details of the settlement weren't made public until Friday. 

An independent investigation last year found that OSU team Dr. Richard Strauss had sexually abused at least 177 male students between 1979 and 1997. The investigation also determined that university personnel were aware of accusations, but did not act. Claims against Strauss involved athletes from at least 16 sports, in addition to his time working at the student health center and his off-campus clinic.

It's not immediately clear how the $40.9 million settlement will be dolled out among the 162 men. According to a press release Friday from the university, the funds will be distributed on an  "individual basis, based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor." 

A three-person panel and a "special master" with no connection to the university will oversee the distribution process. The panel will be selected with input from the university and from the plaintiff's attorneys, according to the Friday press release.

The university said no taxpayer, tuition, or restricted donor funds would be used toward the settlement fund. At least 360 plaintiffs have filed 23 lawsuits against OSU, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Scott Smith, a lawyer for 85 plaintiffs in a still-unresolved lawsuit, said the settlement was "woefully inadequate," according to The Columbus Dispatch. He pointed toward the $500 million settlement paid to the 332 victims of Dr. Larry Nassar at Michigan State University. 

After leaving OSU at the ends of the 90s, Strauss moved to California where he died by suicide in 2005. 

The news just over a week after the University of Michigan asked a federal judge to dismiss a similar lawsuit, alleging that former students had waited too long to sue over alleged sexual misconduct. In a court filing, lawyers for UM argued that expired "statutes of limitations and sovereign immunity prevent" the plaintiff in one specific lawsuit from suing the university.

According to Newsweek, more than 100 complaints have been filed against that university in relation to the conduct of sports physician Dr. Robert Anderson, who died in 2008 and worked for UM in the 1970s. There have been more than three dozen lawsuits filed against UM related to Anderon's conduct, according to the report.

UM said it finds the accusations against Anderson "credible" and that's it's willing to pay up — just not through litigation.

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