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Mediation sought in federal court cases involving Strauss abuse

Two pending court cases filed against Ohio State regarding allegations of abuse by former doctor Richard Strauss took a step forward today as the federal court announced an intention to seek mediation for the cases, according to court documents filed in the Southern District Court of Ohio on Thursday.

Richard Strauss in his Ohio State College of Medicine photograph. Ohio State has filed to have three lawsuits dismissed regarding its handling of the accusations against Strauss. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

The order, signed by Judge Michael H. Watson, also put on hold both Ohio State’s motion to stay discovery and the motion to dismiss.

Both the plaintiff, listed as Brian Garrett, et al., and the defendant, Ohio State, are directed to “confer and file joint recommendations” by Jan. 31, the order said.

Garrett, one of the Strauss accusers, said in a statement Thursday that this was “the best possible outcome we could hope for from today’s hearing.”

“We’re especially grateful that Judge Watson seems interested in ensuring that this is a dignified process and look forward to working with OSU toward a resolution, so that healing can begin,” Garrett said.

Ohio State special counsel Mike Carpenter said the university appreciates “the court’s care and attention to this matter.”

“Under the court’s established processes, we welcome mediation and will confer and bring forward to the court a recommendation for a mediator,” Carpenter said.

Watson made it known to everyone involved in the case that he is also an adjunct professor at Ohio State, but that he still intended to oversee the case. Neither the prosecution nor defense raised concerns.

An investigation into Strauss was announced in April by Ohio State and since then at least 150 victims have talked to investigators about first hand accounts of abuse.

Strauss — who died by suicide in 2005 — is accused of sexually abusing athletes and students during his time at Ohio State between 1978 and 1998 and at his off-campus clinic after leaving the university.

Seven of Strauss’ accusers gave emotional public testimony at an Ohio State Board of Trustees meeting in November, where the Board assured them that their claims were not being taken lightly. Garrett was among the accusers who delivered testimony to the Board.

“Rest assured this Board is not dismissing you. We are committed to doing the right thing,” Michael Gasser, chair of the Board, said at the Board meeting. “This investigation will be over soon, and we look forward to the Board coming up with the appropriate response and action at that time.”

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