Siding against the Ohio State University, the Supreme Court allowed former students to sue the establishment for failing to protect them against the sexual assaults from Richard Strauss – a physician at the student health center – decades ago. In doing so, the SCOTUS also threw out a ruling by a lower court ruling that was in favor of OSU.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio said a year ago that another federal judge erroneously declared in 2021 that the statute of limitations in the case against Strauss had run out. “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 (to sue), since they were so successful in covering it up,” Snyder-Hill said.

OSU had “attempted to run out the clock on its accountability,” lawyers for the survivors said.

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“We look forward to returning to the trial court, having our clients’ stories heard, and gathering further evidence of OSU’s widespread cover-up of Dr. Strauss’s serial predation,” the statement from Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, Scott Elliot Smith, LPA, and Public Justice, said.

Who was Richard Strauss?

After receiving his medical degree from the University of Chicago in 1964, Strauss interned at the associated hospital system until June 1965. He also served as a lieutenant in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy from 1966 through 1968. He also did a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington until 1970.

Before joining as an assistant professor in the OSU College of Medicine in September 1978, Strauss worked as an assistant professor of physiology at both the University of Pennsylvania (1970–1972) and the University of Hawaii (1972–74). He also worked as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

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At OSU, Strauss was a physician at the student health center and varsity team sports doctor from 1978-98. During his tenure, he served as a team physician for multiple teams, including men’s wrestling, gymnastics, fencing, lacrosse, and swimming and diving. He also additionally treated students on the hockey, cheerleading, volleyball, soccer, track, golf, baseball, tennis, water polo, and football teams.

Strauss has been accused of sexually abusing at least 177 students during medical exams, an independent investigation in 2019 found. It was also alleged that the university officials were aware of the complaints but did not act.

By 1979, Athletics Department officials allegedly knew that Strauss conducted unusually prolonged genital examinations on male athletes, during which staff was not permitted to be present. He was also known to shower alongside male students at Larkins Hall.

Strauss died by suicide in 2005.