Snyder-Hill v. The Ohio State University and Moxley v. The Ohio State University
Public Justice and its co-counsel represent 127 survivors of sexual abuse by Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss. They are among the potentially thousands of male students, workers, and visitors sexually abused by Dr. Strauss while he was employed by Ohio State. The lawsuit alleges that OSU knew about, facilitated, and concealed Dr. Strauss’s serial sexual abuse for decades
OSU employed Dr. Strauss to provide medical care and treatment to its students and student-athletes, making him a professor of medicine, an official sports team doctor, and an attending physician at the student health center. Dr. Strauss used his position of trust and confidence at OSU to sexually abuse male students, participants in summer youth sports camps, workers, and visitors on a regular basis throughout his 20-year tenure at the university, from 1978 through 1998.
On May 17, 2019, the firm of Perkins Coie, which conducted an OSU-commissioned investigation, released a damning report showing there were at least 177 abuse survivors and concluding that OSU had repeatedly failed to investigate or address complaints about Strauss.
Several months later, a report commissioned by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine also concluded that OSU failed to protect or inform students—even after the school was notified in 1996 by the State Medical Board about Strauss’ conduct. Instead of working to identify other students who had been abused by Strauss, as OSU told the State Medical Board it would, the school instead destroyed the health care records of students who had been examined by Strauss.
In 2020, OSU released federally required data showing that, from 2018-2019, it had received reports of 2,201 instances of fondling and 127 instances of rape attributable to Strauss.
OSU’s institutional indifference to the rights and safety of its students and others—who, collectively, were exposed to decades of sexual abuse by Dr. Strauss—is staggering. Plaintiffs filed suit against OSU in the hope that the university will fulfill its stated goal of becoming “a national leader” in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct by making the systemic changes needed to ensure that students can obtain their education in a safe environment, free from sexual harassment and abuse by OSU employees. Plaintiffs also seek compensation for their injuries caused by OSU’s failure to take appropriate action to stop Dr. Strauss’s known sexual predation, in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
OSU moved to dismiss the case, arguing that plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the statute of limitations. After the initial motion to dismiss was briefed, the court ordered the parties to participate in mediation. On March 15, 2019, the court referred the case to mediation before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett of the Southern District of Ohio.
On June 28th, 2021, 34 additional Strauss survivors took action in a separate complaint, Moxley v. The Ohio State University. Public Justice joined as co-counsel in this case as well. The additional case illustrates the systemic failure of OSU to protect its students from sexual abuse.
On September 22, 2021, the district court dismissed the survivors’ claims in Snyder-Hill and related cases as untimely. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit heard oral argument in the Snyder-Hill and Moxley cases on July 26, 2022.
On September 14, 2022, the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the survivors, reversing the district court’s opinion and rejecting OSU’s claims that their claims were untimely. OSU filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied on June 26, 2023.
There are currently 107 active plaintiffs across both Moxley and Snyder-Hill groups.
You can hear former students speak about Dr. Strauss’s abuse and OSU’s role in enabling the predation here.