COLUMBUS — Another 30 former Ohio State University students have filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging university officials knew about sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss but failed to address it.

Plaintiffs in the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Columbus include mostly former student-athletes from a number of sports — including about a dozen former Ohio State football players. They are all listed as anonymous John Does.

The plaintiffs are represented by Dayton attorney Michael Wright, who is representing another group of former student athletes — mostly football players — in a separate, companion case filed in May.

Like the earlier case, Wright said Monday’s lawsuit includes former student-athletes who went on to play professionally.

Monday’s lawsuit marks at least the seventh filed against the university over Strauss’ abuse. Combined, the cases include nearly 160 plaintiffs.

An investigative report released in May found Strauss abused at least 177 former students during his nearly 20 years of employment with the university. It also found Ohio State employees knew about Strauss’ misconduct and repeatedly failed to act to stop it.

The university had moved to dismiss previous lawsuits, arguing the statute of limitations for the men’s claims had expired. A federal judge referred those cases to mediation.

Plaintiffs expressed disappointment after initial mediation meetings last month. Meanwhile, a bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives would extend the statute of limitations for Strauss’ victims, clearing the way for them to sue.

The complaint filed Monday alleges Ohio State violated federal Title IX rules. The university knew about Strauss’ “serial sexual assault” but “did not address the complaints and concerns about Strauss,” the complaint said.

Most of the plaintiffs were subjected to excessive and medically unnecessary genital exams or other inappropriate touching during physicals, the complaint said, with some leaving their teams or the university early, or seeking counseling.

University officials eventually conducted a limited investigation into Strauss in 1996, after which he was told his services as a physician seeing student patients within student health services and athletics would no longer be needed. He voluntarily retired from Ohio State in 1998.

Strauss died by suicide in 2005, after relocating to California.

“There are plaintiffs still coming forward as a result of abuse by Dr. Strauss,” Wright told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “We are still hoping that Ohio State does the right thing related to all these victims of sexual abuse.”

University officials have previously called Strauss’ abuse “institutional failure,” and have apologized to the doctor’s victims. The university also is covering the cost of counseling services for students impacted by Strauss.

In the wake of the Strauss investigative report, Ohio State president Michael V. Drake also announced a task force to address sexual abuse on college campuses.

 

jsmola@dispatch.com

@jennsmola