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Courtney Smith's Lawyer Says Ohio State Never Contacted Her Client About Abuse Allegations

Illustration for article titled Courtney Smiths Lawyer Says Ohio State Never Contacted Her Client About Abuse Allegations
Photo: Darron Cummings (AP)

As a small number of very stupid Buckeyes fans rally around head coach Urban Meyer—who is currently on paid leave as Ohio State investigates whether or not Meyer properly reported the multiple reports of domestic abuse made against since-fired assistant coach Zach Smith—a statement yesterday from the attorney for Smith’s ex-wife provides a few more details into what OSU did and did not do. Ohio State never got in touch with Courtney Smith to talk about her ex-husband’s behavior, according to Smith’s lawyer, Julia Leveridge.


Here is the statement in full (emphasis added is mine):

Courtney Smith is currently involved in two legal matters, criminal trespass involving her ex-husband Zach Smith, and a domestic violence civil protection order she has obtained to ensure her ongoing safety. Ms. Smith will have no further comments until these matters have been resolved. Her focus remains on caring for her two small children and continuing her nursing studies.

As her attorney, I can tell you that Ms. Smith is cautiously optimistic that The Ohio State University’s investigative committee will determine if proper reporting protocol was followed upon learning of the ongoing, abuse allegations against Zach Smith. We believe the University must prioritize the safety and well-being of others above all else. While The Ohio State University has never contacted Ms. Smith to discuss these allegations, she will fully cooperate with the university’s current investigation.

We would like to set the record straight in terms of the misinformation that has been circulating.

• Ms. Smith has received absolutely no compensation for any interview she has granted to reporters.

• Ms. Smith is a victim of domestic violence. She has made concerted efforts to press charges of domestic abuse against her ex-husband.

• Ms. Smith has never been charged with an OVI or any other criminal offense.

The cycle of abuse is complicated. Breaking free from years of violence takes tremendous courage and support. Blaming the victim only contributes to the stigma that is already present in our society today. It should be unacceptable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women will be the victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. Cases such as this can be difficult to fully understand by those on the outside, who too often, shamefully cast judgment. Ms. Smith is grateful to those who have shown her the support she deserves during this challenging time. Again, we will have no further comment until the pending litigation is resolved.


This statement doesn’t directly contradict Urban Meyer’s defense that, when he became aware of a 2015 incident in which Zach Smith allegedly strangled Courtney, he “[elevated] the issues to the proper channels.” But, if that’s true, what happened after that? And why didn’t whoever was assigned to the investigation reach out to Courtney Smith? Whatever went into the choice to keep Zach Smith on OSU’s staff until 2018, Ohio State authorities weren’t making an informed-enough decision.

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