Victims of former university physician Richard Strauss will address the full Board of Trustees in the Nov. 21 meeting, following requests from several of the victims.
The three Strauss victims who sent requests to the Board said in their request that they wish to provide an update on “the daily injury victims continue to suffer,” and an opportunity for Ohio State to address the victims “in a public and forthright manner.”
Strauss was the team doctor for 17 men’s varsity sports as well as a physician at the Student Wellness Center at Ohio State from 1978-98, during which he abused at least 177 students and student-athletes, according to a report released in May, following an investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, LLP. The investigation also found that Ohio State failed to act on Strauss’ abuse at the time.
Ohio State’s latest count, according to an Oct. 1 press release, includes nearly 1,500 instances of Strauss-related abuse. At least fourteen Strauss-related lawsuits have been filed against the university.
Strauss died by suicide in 2005.
Jessica Eveland, Board secretary, responded to the requests by email Monday and said the survivors are “welcome” to address the Board at the beginning of the meeting. However, she said the Board would not engage in a dialogue.
“Survivors are members of the Ohio State family, and once this litigation is concluded, we are committed to engaging directly with you and other survivors, without the limitations of the legal process, so together we can pursue a restorative justice model,” the response said.
Brian Garrett, Ohio State alumnus, lead plaintiff in one of the Strauss-related suits and one of the victims who will speak to the Board, said although the victims spoke about a year ago to the Board, the circumstances have changed since then.
“Now we know what happened, and it’s even worse than what we thought, and it’s caused a lot more damage than we thought,” he said.
The requests detailed several other concerns, including that there are no abuse victims on the Task Force on Sexual Abuse, and “Ohio State is using the statute of limitations as a liability shield.”
The survivors are currently barred from taking action against Ohio State by the statute of limitations — a time limit for filing lawsuits — for this type of civil case. House Bill 249, proposed by Ohio State Rep. Brett Hillyer, would lift the statute of limitations for Strauss victims and give them the opportunity for compensation.
Garrett said if the statute of limitations is not lifted, it could set a troubling precedent.
“It gives a playbook to every university in the country to wait past the statute of limitations before doing anything,” he said.
Garrett and other survivors will speak at 1 p.m. for 30 minutes at the Nov. 21 meeting.