Ohio State University announced Friday it has reached a monetary settlement with survivors in 11 of the 18 lawsuits pending against the school regarding sexual assault claims related to Richard Strauss, a university-employed physician from 1978 to 1998 who died by suicide in 2005.
The 11 lawsuits represent nearly half of the nearly 350 individuals who have brought claims against the university. The parties participated in a confidential mediation overseen by a federal court judge in Cincinnati for nearly a year. According to a statement issued by Ohio State on Friday, the school anticipates completing the final procedural steps in the process in the coming weeks.
The statement went on to say that Ohio State continues to participate in the mediation process with the survivors involved in the seven remaining lawsuits.
Funds in the settlement will be allocated on an individual basis based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor, according to the news.OSU.com website . A special master, independent of the university and trained in sex abuse trauma, will oversee the settlement process.
Funds in the settlement will be allocated on an individual basis based on the harm and damages experienced by each survivor, OSU.com continued. A special master, independent of the university and trained in sex abuse trauma, will oversee the settlement process.
No taxpayer, tuition or donor funds will be utilized. All funds for individual survivors of Strauss related to this settlement will draw from existing institutional discretionary funding.
Further details regarding the settlement will be available as the legal process moves forward.
However, attorneys for a number of plaintiffs who have yet to reach a settlement wrote a letter last week to the presiding judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Michael Watson, saying that negotiations between them and the university have broken down. They accused the university of not negotiating "in good faith," the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Those problems persist, said Robert Allard, a San Jose, California lawyer representing about 85 victims, who characterized the claims of those individuals as being "far more severe," adding that, in his opinion, the university had appeared to abandon negotiation in favor of litigation the cases in court.
The Cleveland newspaper went on to report that attorneys for another group of 83 victims said in a news release that they were excluded from the negotiations that led to the settlement and that they are "extremely concerned that this is not a full and fair settlement for survivors."
At least one of Strauss' victims who is not part of the just-announced settlement openly said he intends to continue the fight.
"We want the truth and we want justice," Brian Garrett told WCMH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbus. "And the way to get that is to take this to court, put everybody on the stand, let the truth come out so the public can hear it."
"The rest of us guys that didn't settle today, we are in it to the end," Garrett said. "We want this to go to trial. We want this to go to court."
However, one former Ohio State wrestler who was among the first to bring attention to Strauss' sexual assaults nearly two years ago, is among the victims to be a part of the just-announced settlement with Ohio State.
"It didn't need to take two years, so I'm happy that this day has finally come," Michael DiSabato told the Columbus Dispatch Friday. "Not just for me, but the 350-plus (plaintiffs) ... we finally get to say, 'Someone listened.'"
That said, the early whistleblower admitted it's still too early for him to have closure.
"Our voices were heard, and that's what today means to me," Mike DiSabato said. "It's on the record, for eternity, that the Ohio State University accepts responsibility."