Fired Marching Band Director Sues OSU President for Unlawful Termination (UPDATE)By Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
Former Ohio State Marching band director Jonathan Waters has a filed a lawsuit Friday against school's President and officials for failing to provide due process and engaging in gender discrimination.
The 38-year-old controversial director was sacked in August following a two-month internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations.
The investigation was triggered by the visit of a parent of a Marching Band member to the Office of University Compliance and Integrity on May 23. They filed a complaint saying that students sexually harassed each other and that Waters was aware of their behavior. The members were also "made to swear secrecy oaths about objectionable traditions and customs," USA Today reports.
For example: band members were asked to march wearing only underwear during a midnight practice. During another instance, new members were referred by sexually explicit nicknames and were forced to perform "tricks" on command like simulating sex acts. An unofficial songbook with rude lyrics to other schools' songs was created and claims of alcohol abuse among band members were not addressed by Waters.
Water denies all the above allegations and chose to seek legal action to prove his innocence. He has named President Michael Drake and Provost and Executive Vice President Joseph Steinmetz as the defendants. Through the lawsuit filed in the in the United States District Court, the ousted band director is seeking a minimum of $1 million in compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and reinstatement.
"We are here today to tell the Ohio State University that we are not going away," Waters' attorney David Axelrod said, The Lantern reports.
However, OSU spokesman Chris Davey said the lawsuit lacks both "substance" and "merit".
"It is regrettable that Waters' lawyers have chosen to misconstrue the President's words from a private meeting to garner support for their meritless allegations and personal gain. Now that the former director has chosen to take his allegations to the legal system, however, Ohio State embraces the opportunity to respond to the baseless attacks of the past two months in a forum we know will vindicate the facts and the integrity underlying the University's decisions," Davey said.
"With the support of the Ohio Attorney General, we have retained litigation counsel and together the University stands ready to vigorously defend this lawsuit."