Judge: Ohio State didn’t defame fired marching band director

COLUMBUS(AP) – A state court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by a fired Ohio State University marching band director.

The Court of Claims on Tuesday rejected Jonathan Waters’ claims that the school’s statements surrounding his dismissal were slanderous and defamatory and invaded his privacy.

A judge says Waters became a limited-purpose public figure once an internal investigation uncovered a “sexualized culture” within the celebrated band. He noted Ohio State was compelled to investigate after a parent complained of inappropriate behavior.

The court says that Ohio State had the right to explain its findings and that officials based their statements and releases on truth. Waters contended band rituals and practices pre-existed his tenure and his reputation was unjustifiably harmed by misguided attacks.

Waters released this statement to NBC4:

I am saddened that we did not have the opportunity to present our full case to the court.  I maintain that I was the catalyst for change, and was recognized by university administrators for those efforts.  We are studying the legal opinion and weighing our options accordingly.  Unfortunately there seems to be no legal remedy for some injustices.  I remain steadfastly loyal to the students and alumni of the band who were so negatively impacted by this situation.”


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