Cleveland State University aligned with six other universities in support of Ohio State University, contesting previous court rulings that allow victims of former OSU Dr. Richard Strauss to sue OSU. Cleveland State joined Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland, and Purdue by signing the amicus brief filed with the court.
In September 2022, a three-judge panel voted 2-1 to overturn a federal judge’s 2021 ruling that the statute of limitations for victims to sue OSU had expired. The 2022 ruling stated that OSU fraudulently concealed Strauss’ abuse and hid OSU’s knowledge of the abuse from survivors.
OSU filed motions to dismiss each lawsuit involving Strauss against OSU. OSU claims that the two-year statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse cases should expire no later than two years after each victim leaves OSU.
The universities, including Cleveland State, argue that allowing Strauss’ victims to sue expands Title IX remedies to non-students (anyone who uses university property), drastically increasing the university’s implied right of action by eliminating the statute of limitations. The universities claim that this expansion of Title IX would force schools to hear claims where the only remaining evidence could be the plaintiff’s own word.
One of the attorneys representing Strauss’ survivors, Rocky Ratliff, said the brief that universities, including Cleveland State, signed was “spitting in the face” of the survivors.
“I am shocked and disgusted that public universities of ‘higher education’ are using taxpayer money to come to the rescue of OSU, who covered up and concealed a serial sexual predator not only from their own students but from the world,” Ratliff said.
From 1978 to 1998, Strauss was a varsity team doctor and physician at OSU’s wellness center. An investigation by the Perkins Coie law firm revealed evidence that Strauss sexually abused at least 177 students and athletes while working for OSU. The Perkins Coie investigation also provided evidence that proved OSU officials were informed of Strauss’ conduct as early as 1979, but OSU officials did not investigate or act meaningfully. Strauss committed suicide in 2005. Over 350 men have joined lawsuits against OSU since 2018. The lawsuits concentrate on OSU for its failure to address and prevent the sexual abuse of students and athletes.