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Ohio State Admits Dr. Strauss Committed As Many Rapes As the Golden State Killer

In an astonishing development, The Ohio State University has now admitted that its employee, Dr. Richard Strauss, committed 47 rapes and 1,429 sexual assaults of student-patients, over a period of two decades. The admissions, from OSU’s Annual Security Report and website, are here (p. 61, admitting to 992 sexual assaults and 30 rapes reported in 2018) and here (admitting to 437 sexual assaults and 17 rapes by Strauss reported so far this year). (The Golden State Killer is reported to have committed approximately 45-50 rapes.)

These numbers dwarf the previously reported 177 sexual assaults of OSU student-patients in a report from Perkins Coie, the law firm hired by The Ohio State University’s Special Counsel. That report found that “Despite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of … complaints” of sexual abuse from students since 1979, “no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate the concerns until January 1996.”

“This is one of the biggest sexual abuse scandals in U.S. history, said Ilann M. Maazel, co-counsel for survivor Steve Snyder-Hill and 76 other plaintiffs. “No words can describe the scope, the scale, or the appalling nature of OSU’s failure to protect its own students.”

“Ohio State claims it is being transparent by reporting nearly 1500 incidents of rape and sexual assault by Dr. Strauss, but it still refuses to disclose how many students were abused,” said Adele P. Kimmel, also co-counsel. “Ohio State knows how many students have reported abuse by Strauss and should disclose that to the public. It is clearly far more than the 177 students referenced in the Perkins Coie report.”

“This new information further shows OSU has known but continues to conceal evidence of Dr. Strauss’s serial sexual abuse. They were guilty of covering it up then and they are guilty of covering it up today,” said Scott E. Smith, also co-counsel.

The plaintiffs in this case are represented by Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Marissa Benavides of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, Scott E. Smith and Brian Noethlich of Scott Elliot Smith LPA, and Adele Kimmel of Public Justice. More on the case is available at www.osusurvivors.com.

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“Bronx Zoo” Case Settles for $6 Million and Transfer of Control of State Facility

As reported in the New York Times, the New York Post, the Daily News, and elsewhere,…

New York, NY – This morning, three families settled a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court alleging abuse of disabled residents in a State-run group home in the Bronx. The lawsuit revealed years of shocking abuse and neglect in the Bronx home, including staff who gave disabled residents black eyes, pulled their hair, spit in their faces, kicked them, sexually abused them, withheld food from them, showered them in frigid water, and botched their medical care.

The group home is run by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (“OPWDD”), a New York State agency. Whistleblowers testified that staff acted “like prison guards,” “operated like a gang,” and treated disabled resident like “animals in the zoo.”[1] Some staff referred to the group home as “the Bronx Zoo.” In sworn testimony, OPWDD’s then-Commissioner, Kerry A. Delaney, described State employees’ conduct as “utterly shocking,” admitted that defendants “failed their duty to protect individuals in that home,” and called the home “a disaster.” A copy of the complaint is here.

Under the settlement, the State will pay $6 million, believed to be one of the largest settlements in OPWDD history. In addition, the State will permanently relinquish control of the home, known as the Union Avenue IRA, to a nonprofit provider. Finally, the individual staff will never be permitted to reenter Union Avenue as long as any of the three disabled residents reside there.

“From the very top to the very bottom, OPWDD failed my sister on every level. I hope and pray that all the individuals living at Union Avenue will now live happy, healthy, fear-free lives, once OPWDD turns over control of Union Avenue to a nonprofit provider,” said Laura Kearins, sister of one of the plaintiffs. “I’m completely saddened and heartbroken. How can people prey on the innocent with no remorse? We will move forward trying to repair the damage that was done,” said Barbara Melendez, sister to another plaintiff.

“This is one of the most appalling disability abuse cases I’ve seen in over twenty years of practice,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel for the families, and a partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady.  “How could so many New York State employees brutalize so many people, for so long, while no staff or supervisor did a thing about it? This case is a wake-up call for massive reform in this State agency.”

Even today, many former Union Avenue staff with claims of abuse or neglect substantiated by the Justice Center work with disabled residents in other group homes run by New York State; many were not disciplined at all. David Lebowitz, another attorney for the families, called this “a scandal and a disgrace.” “Hopefully, this case and this settlement can shine a light on the structural issues that allow abusive staff to work with disabled people without consequence,” said Ashok Chandran, another attorney for the families.

Maazel and ECBA were also counsel in the cases of Jonathan Carey, Eddie Velasquez, and K.C.

For more information, contact:

Ilann M. Maazel, David Lebowitz, or Ashok Chandran
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (in New York)
212-763-5000
imaazel@ecbalaw.com
dlebowitz@ecbalaw.com
achandran@ecbalaw.com

 

[1] As one staff member, Shirlynn Thomas, testified: “Q: Would you ever leave your child in the care of Linton, Conner, Tucker or Teams? A: Not my dog.  I wouldn’t leave my dog.”

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Ten ECBA Attorneys Named as Super Lawyers; Four Named as Rising Stars

ECBA is proud to announce that partners Richard EmeryAndrew CelliMatthew BrinckerhoffJonathan AbadyIlann MaazelEarl WardHal LiebermanDan KornsteinAndrew Wilson, and Elizabeth Saylor were named as Super Lawyers for 2019. Partners Zoe Salzman and Sam Shapiro and associates David Lebowitz and Alanna Kaufman were named as Rising Stars.

The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thompson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found here.

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Federal Court of Appeals Reinstates Emoluments Clause Lawsuit Against Trump

On September 13, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated a landmark federal lawsuit in New York against Donald Trump, prompted by his violations of the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution.  The Second Circuit’s decision means that Trump may be ordered to provide extensive discovery into his business dealings with foreign and state governments.  ECBA previously filed an amicus curiae brief in the District Court in support of the Plaintiff, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, on behalf of Sarah P. Chayes, an internationally-recognized expert in corruption and kleptocratic regimes.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and the New York Law Journal, among others, have covered this recent development.  The Second Circuit’s decision is available here.

ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel and Emma L. Freeman represent Sarah Chayes.

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ECBA Wins DNA Motion in Sexual Assault Case

ECBA won a landmark ruling in Breest v. Haggis. ECBA represents a young woman named Haleigh Breest in a case alleging that she was raped and sexually assaulted by the director Paul Haggis. In a legal filing, Haggis swore under oath that he had not had intercourse with Breest. But he refused to give a sample of his DNA to compare to the sample left in Breest’s tights. Justice Robert R. Reed of the New York Supreme Court ruled that Haggis had to provide his DNA because, if it matched the DNA on the tights, it could help prove Breest’s claim of rape and rebut Haggis’s denial of intercourse. “This is an important decision by the court. We believe it is the first case of the #MeToo era to order disclosure of DNA evidence,” said Breest’s lawyer, Zoe Salzman.

The decision can be found here.

Read more about Justice Reed’s decision granting the DNA sample here and here.

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Ilann M. Maazel, Zoe Salzman, and Emma Freeman represent the plaintiff Haleigh Breest.

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ECBA Files Amended Complaint Against Albany County Nursing Home

On July 2nd, ECBA filed an amended complaint in its case against the Albany County Nursing Home, alleging a pattern and practice of mistreatment against elderly patients and residents. The complaint was amended to include three additional plaintiffs, who experienced similarly tragic and disturbing neglect while in the care of the facility.

Read coverage of the complaint and the new plaintiffs from the Albany Times Union here. The amended complaint is available here.

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ECBA Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Family of Elderly Resident Left to Die in Albany County Nursing Home

New York, NY – As reported in the Albany-Times Union, this morning, the daughter of Albany resident Roger Sanford filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the Albany County Nursing Home, its Executive Director Larry Slatky, and other Nursing Home staff, for civil rights violations and wrongful death.

On March 1, 2018, Mr. Sanford’s daughter found him alone in his Nursing Home room, gasping for air, drenched in sweat, with an oxygen tube dangling from his nose. This followed months where Mr. Sanford was often unchanged, unfed, unmedicated, unwashed, unshaven, and even covered in his own urine and feces, the Complaint alleges. Mr. Sanford died as a result of the Nursing Home’s reckless disregard for his life.

A New York State Department of Health investigation found that the Nursing Home violated federal laws by failing to provide Mr. Sanford with basic life support or CPR; failing to follow professional standards of practice; and failing to provide Mr. Sanford with necessary respiratory care.

As alleged in the Complaint, when Mr. Sanford’s daughter complained to Executive Director Slatky about her father’s poor care, Mr. Slatky boasted that a relative of a Nursing Home employee worked in the Department of Health’s complaint department and would make sure any complaint against the Nursing Home disappeared.

“My hope and prayer is that our lawsuit will force Albany County Nursing Home to provide much safer care and services and that reckless and negligent deaths will be prevented. My father suffered horrifically, he was grossly neglected, he was denied basic medical care and he died prematurely because staff refused to get him to the hospital for days or even bother to call 911 when he was in a dire medical emergency. It broke my heart to find my father laying in his bed gasping for air, sweating profusely with no one there to assist him or help save his life.” said Lori LaRock, Mr. Sanford’s daughter.

“We expect nursing homes to take care of our loved ones, not to let them suffer and die alone,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. “Albany County Nursing Home’s treatment of Mr. Sanford was unconscionable and indefensible.”

“No one should have to endure what Mr. Sanford’s family went through” said David Berman, another lawyer for Mr. Sanford’s family,  “Albany County Nursing Home must be held accountable for Mr. Sanford’s suffering.”

For more information, contact:

Ilann M. Maazel or David Berman

Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady LLP (in New York) 212-763-5000

imaazel@ecbalaw .com dberman@ecbalaw.com

Article

Have you been affected by sexual abuse at Ohio State?

If so, please call us at 212-763-5042, email ohiosurvivors@ecbalaw.com, or use this form.

ECBA represents 77 survivors of sexual abuse by OSU doctor Richard Strauss. While employed by Ohio State, Dr. Strauss reportedly committed at least 47 rapes and 1,429 sexual assaults of Ohio State students, over a period of decades. Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Marissa Benavides at ECBA are co-counseling the case with attorneys Adele Kimmel at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and Scott Smith in Columbus, Ohio. The case is captioned Snyder-Hill, et al. v. The Ohio State University, 18-CV-00736, in federal court in Columbus.

A May 15, 2019 report reveals OSU’s complete failure to protect its students. The report found: “Despite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of complaints” of sexual abuse from students since 1979, “no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate the concerns until January 1996.” Even then, officials at the highest levels of the University kept Strauss as a tenured faculty member until 1998, gave him an emeritus appointment in 1998, did not inform any students that Strauss was a sexual predator, and permitted Strauss to run ads in the University newspaper about his off-campus private men’s clinic for OSU students and others

This major national news story has been covered by, among others, People, U.S. News & World Report, Fox Sports, and Yahoo! Sports.

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Report Confirms that, For Decades, OSU Ignored Complaints that Dr. Strauss Was Abusing Male Students

Investigators from Perkins Coie, the law firm hired by The Ohio State University’s Special Counsel to investigate widespread reports of sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss, write in a May 17, 2019 report that “Despite the persistence, seriousness, and regularity of [] complaints” of sexual abuse from students since 1979, “no meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate the concerns until January 1996.” Even then, officials at the highest levels of the University kept Strauss as a tenured faculty member until 1998, gave him an emeritus appointment in 1998, did not inform any students that Strauss was a sexual predator, and permitted Strauss to run ads in the University newspaper about his off-campus private men’s clinic for OSU students and others.  Ilann M. Maazel and Debra Greenberger at ECBA are co-counseling a case against OSU on behalf of dozens of survivors with attorneys Adele Kimmel at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and Scott Smith in Columbus, Ohio. The Perkins Coie report is available here .

 

If you are a survivor, please email ohiosurvivors@ecbalaw.com or call Ilann Maazel or Debra Greenberger at 212-763-5000.

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