COLUMBUS — A pattern of targeted, sexually-exploitative behavior towards Ohio State football players has led to the revoking of a license for a massage therapist.
After three years of predatory actions from a 41-year-old woman living two hours away from campus, the Buckeyes began a thorough investigation in March into the practices that produced sexual encounters with five different players and numerous attempts to pursue them across the entire roster. After concluding interviews with virtually the entire program over the last two months, the Buckeyes released a detailed report on Thursday afternoon and confirmed that the State Medical Board of Ohio had taken action by permanently revoking her license.
Ohio State also banned the woman from campus, all sporting events and from making contact with any student-athletes moving forward. The school found no evidence of any wrong-doing from the Buckeyes, neither criminal nor in compliance with NCAA rules.
“Our first concern and top priority is for the safety and well-being of our student-athletes,” Ohio State announced in a statement. “Within days of learning of these allegations, the university quickly launched an independent investigation of the matter. An experienced legal and compliance resource, Barnes & Thornburg, led the independent investigation, and has completed its work. Barnes & Thornburg found that no university or athletic department staff had knowledge of the massage therapistâ€™s activities. Her actions were part of a scheme to exploit football student-athletes and were in violation of her state license.
“In addition, Ohio State does not believe the massage therapistâ€™s actions trigger NCAA rules or form the basis for NCAA violations. While no self-reporting is required, Ohio State proactively shared the exploitative behavior with the NCAA, and a report has been made to the Franklin County Prosecutorâ€™s Office.”
The public release did come with some debate by the program, which athletic director Gene Smith confirmed was one topic discussed over several meetings with the team — including on Thursday morning. The Buckeyes had concerns about the potentially embarrassing details for the young men being revealed, and that factored weighed heavily for Smith and the rest of program leadership. But eventually the chance to remain completely transparent, provide a learning opportunity around the nation and potentially allow the program to start moving on tipped the scales toward a coordinated release.
Ohio State involved both the NCAA and Big Ten in the process along with local authorities, confirming with all governing bodies that no rules or laws were broken. Smith also made a point to praise the openness of all 117 members of the program who were interviewed during the investigation, none of which will face any discipline as a result of being on the other end of a predatory scheme.
“I’m impressed with our young men and how honest and forthright they were during this investigation,” Smith said. “I’m thankful that our student-athletes, our coaches and staff were honest, forthright and open — and I’m really thankful that they maintained confidentiality affording the investigation to operate without distraction and to be able to operate with integrity.”
That investigation could still potentially lead to criminal charges against the former massage therapist, though that is now up to a local prosecutor to determine.
From the Ohio State perspective, the case is now closed.