Ohio State says fired band director proposed disciplining assault victim, misled investigators

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State University's fired band director witnessed more sexually charged incidents than previously reported, once proposed punishing a female band member who reported sexual assault and kept a calendar of nearly nude male band members in his office, school attorneys said in response to his federal lawsuit.

In continuing to defend Jonathan Waters' July 24 dismissal, the university alleged that he misled university investigators and repeatedly acted to conceal the culture of the band from outsiders.

The filing in U.S. District Court in Columbus lists three sexual assault allegations brought to Waters while he was serving as interim director and director in 2012 and 2013, one more than was previously known. In one case, Waters proposed disciplining both the male and female involved by requiring them both to miss an upcoming road trip, university attorneys wrote.

The 2007 calendar was found in Waters' office after his termination. It pictures male band members with "strategically placed band equipment" and was marked, "For Jon Waters' eyes only." Waters apparently discussed the calendar with investigators, describing its "seductive poses."

Waters led the celebrated band — known to fans as The Best Damn Band in the Land — since 2012. The halftime shows he created were considered revolutionary. Videos of the morphing and dancing images the band creates on the field have drawn hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and landed the band in an Apple commercial.

Messages seeking comment were left with the lead attorney on Waters' legal defense team, which has been funded through support from outspoken supporters among band alumni.

Waters sued for reinstatement last month, accusing the university, President Michael Drake and a provost of discriminating against him by disciplining him differently than a female employee and denying him due process.

The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $1 million in damages and a court-ordered name-clearing hearing. It says Waters was targeted for dismissal to impress the U.S. Department of Education as it conducted an investigation into Ohio State's handling of sexual abuse claims.

Just weeks after Waters was fired, a federal settlement agreement was reached in that case and the probe was closed. The lawsuit cites the Title IX law, which prohibits gender discrimination at institutions that take federal funds, saying a female cheerleading coach was given an opportunity to remedy her behavior before being fired and Waters was not.

In its 65-page response, the university provides a host of new details about Waters' alleged behavior.

The filing says Waters was aware of and appeared in videos for a band event called "Fesler night" that contained inappropriate content, but failed to bring them to the attention of investigators.

Waters also received a complaint in January of this year from a female student who said she felt harassed by inappropriate, sexist and offensive comments certain male band members were posting on Twitter while they were sitting in a sexual harassment training, according to the document.

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