Via America’s Lawyer: A federal judge cited the statute of limitations when dismissing a litany of sexual abuse charges against former Ohio State University physician Dr. Richard Strauss. From the Mass Torts Made Perfect conference in Las Vegas, legal journalist Mollye Barrows joined RT’s Brent Jabbour, filling in for Mike Papantonio, to explain how the saga is far from over, as more than a hundred victims continue to seek justice against the late Strauss, who is accused of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.
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*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Ohio State University has been hit with multiple lawsuits for allegedly covering up sexual abuse that took place in the athletics department many years ago. But the cases were recently dismissed and RT’s Brent Jabbour spoke with legal journalist Mollye Barrows about why that happened.
A judge has recently tossed out lawsuits over the sexual abuse scandal at the Ohio State University citing statute of limitations. Joining us now to discuss is legal journalist Mollye Barrows. Mollye, before we get into the statute of limitations here, reset up the situation with that sex abuse scandal at Ohio State University.
So at the center of the scandal is Dr. Richard Strauss, and he worked for decades as a physician for Ohio State University and hundreds of victims, mostly men, have come forward and said that he sexually abused them in one way or the other over almost 40 years, whether it was at the medical facility at the campus, a private office that he had off campus, as well as his home. So in recent years, people have been coming forward and Ohio State was being, they were basically, the survivors were saying that Ohio State officials knew about this abuse, that they were aware of these complaints, and yet they allow this man to have access to hundreds of students that also were abused later on. So when it came to light about these allegations, they couldn’t pursue him directly because he committed suicide in 2005. So legal recourse was a way to find some accountability against Ohio State University for allowing this predator to have access to so many college students. Unfortunately because of the very narrow statute of limitations, there was a window that was open, but the judge ruled that these particular set of cases could not move forward because they missed that window that was opened to allow them to pursue civil claims against OSU.
And I was going to say, and we, we see, oftentimes whenever we’re talking about a legal story like this, there is always the question of statute of limitation and those can vary from state to state. So tell us about that.
It’s fascinating really because it’s what’s so unfortunate and I think ever since the me too movement, and you have other high profile cases that have really brought this to the forefront, you’re seeing a bigger push in individual states that are changing legislation individually, that makes it easier for victims to have access to justice. And that’s a real problem right now because in order for a victim to come forward, it’s a, it’s a, double-edged short, actually, there’s just many facets to this problem. One, victims of sexual abuse often don’t come forward for years. Studies show that the average age is 52 before they come forward. And if it happened when they were young, naturally statute of limitations are gonna expire. Mostly it’s state laws that govern whether or not victims can pursue it. So if those state laws say the statute of limitations, like for instance in Ohio is only two years, well that’s well beyond when a lot of these people come forward.
So going by state by state, you had states like New York and California post me too change laws that made it easier for victims to file claims directly against their abusers. But if you want to file a claim against a church or a community organization or an institution like a college, you have to go through the state laws.
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