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Federal appeals court rules against Ohio State University; sexual abuse lawsuits can move forward

Court rejected OSU's request
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Posted at 6:28 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 19:58:09-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal appeals court ruled against Ohio State University Wednesday, which paves the way for lawsuits filed by former male students who say they were sexually abused by a deceased university doctor to move forward.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied Ohio State's request for an en banc review. More than half of the court's judges who voted against heard the case after a three-judge panel's ruling found the lawsuits were filed within the statue of limitations.

Ohio State filed the unusual court request in September, one week after a three-judge panel revived unsettled lawsuits against the university.

The filing for an en banc review requested all 16 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit review the case.

The court affirmed its earlier ruling, stating the cases were filed within the legal time limit and could go to trial.

OSU has not disputed Strauss abused hundreds of male students, mostly athletes, over two decades. OSU has argued the statute of limitations for survivors to file claims against the university for allegedly covering up Strauss's crime has long since passed.

The court found the two-year statute of limitations should start when knowledge of Strauss' sexual abuse and Ohio State's potential cover-up of his crimes became public.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote OSU's desired outcome would have "ignored Title IX’s plain language and eviscerated Title IX’s purpose by creating a perverse incentive for institutions to run out the clock on the limitations period by covering up sexual abuse."

In an email to News 5, Ohio State University spokesman Benjamin Johnson wrote, "We are reviewing the decision and don’t have more to say at this time."

In an emailed statement, attorneys with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP; Scott Elliot Smith, LPA; and Public Justice, who represent the plaintiffs, said the decision will allow hundreds of Strauss survivors "to hold Ohio State accountable for its decades of concealing and enabling Strauss’s abuse."

"The road may be long, but we are one step closer to justice," they wrote. "No matter how long Ohio State delays this case, the university will eventually be held to account for its wrongdoing.”

RELATED: Betrayed: How Ohio failed hundreds of male athletes abused by OSU Dr. Richard Strauss

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