US Supreme Court Allows Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Ohio State University to Proceed

  • June 28, 2023

The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal filed by The Ohio State University that, if granted, would have deprived more than 200 sexual assault survivors from having their day in court.

The plaintiffs in Snyder-Hill v. The Ohio State University are seeking justice for the sexual abuse perpetrated against them by former OSU employee Dr. Richard Strauss. OSU has admitted that Strauss committed 47 rapes and 1,429 sexual assaults of student-patients – as many rapes as the Golden State Killer – over a 20-year period. An independent investigation conducted by law firm Perkins Coie confirmed that OSU ignored the complaints it received about Strauss, and even continued to promote him and publicize his off-campus private men’s clinic. Despite this damning evidence, OSU continued to seek to have lawsuits by survivors dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.

Last September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinstated the lawsuits, explaining, “First, the plaintiffs plausibly allege that they did not know and lacked reason to know that Ohio State caused their injury. Second, they plausibly allege that even if they had investigated further, they could not have learned of Ohio State’s conduct. Third, most plaintiffs plausibly allege that they did not know that they were abused. Alone, each of these grounds is sufficient to delay accrual.”

OSU then sought review from the U.S. Supreme Court, aiming to thwart the Sixth Circuit’s ruling and permanently stop the survivors’ lawsuits. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means the Sixth Circuit ruling will stand and the lawsuits will be referred back to trial court.

“It’s a major moment in the case, a major step toward getting justice,” said ECBAWM partner Ilann M. Maazel, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “OSU has for years tried to hide behind this phony statute of limitations defense, and they failed. We intend to proceed and hold them accountable once and for all.”

The plaintiffs are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Sara Luz Estela, along with Public Justice and Scott Smith.

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