Sports

Ohio St. bans masseuse for inappropriate actions

An independent massage therapist has been barred from Ohio State’s campus and having any interaction with Ohio State athletics members after an independent investigation found she had engaged in inappropriate and exploitative behavior targeting members of the Buckeyes football team.

The university released statements and a full report on the investigation, concluding the massage therapist had no affiliation with the university or athletics department and that the school does not believe any NCAA rules were violated. The massage therapist is a 41-year-old woman who lives roughly two hours north of campus and obtained her massage therapy license in 2009 in Ohio. She claims to have had clients in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA football.

An investigation began after a complaint filed on March 14, 2020 with the State Medical Board of Ohio that alleged a female licensed massage therapist was offering free therapeutic massages to members of the Ohio State football team. She had been using the massages as a “means to initiate sexual interactions with some of the football student athletes, and then demanding payment,” according to the investigation report.

Ohio State engaged outside counsel and hired attorneys Barnes & Thornburg to conduct the independent investigation, which found the massage therapist offered massages to student athletes through social media with the intent of engaging in sexual encounters. The first contact with an Ohio State football student athlete occurred in the fall of 2018 via social media.

The investigation also revealed at some point in 2020, the massage therapist contacted committed recruits on National Signing Day claiming to be a masseuse for the team. In total, 34 football players had knowledge of the massage therapist with 20 receiving massages only and five football players acknowledging during interviews they engaged in sexual activities with the masseuse.

The firm found the massage therapist used two methods to attempt to initiate the sexual encounters by isolating the student athlete to get them in a vulnerable position or she would send out “overtly sexual messages and see if she could engage their interest in a sexual encounter,” according to the report.

This scheme took place from 2018 to 2021 mainly in off-campus housing or in hotels, but says that no current or former staff members for the Ohio State football team were aware of the massage therapist or of her communication with the student athletes. The report also notes that there was no direct evidence of force or sex with a minor, but there was evidence of harassment.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith penned a letter to the massage therapist, who has since had her license revoked permanently by the medical board, and has barred the masseuse from any contact with any University athletics members and that she must stay away from all student-athletes, athletic staff and coaches.

Ohio State Director of Public Safety, Monica Moll, also wrote a hand-delivered letter that bans the masseuse from being present on any property owned or controlled by Ohio State on any of its campuses. Any entry onto the premises will be considered criminal trespassing and result in arrest.

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