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Judge hears first arguments in Jon Waters’ lawsuit against Ohio State

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Former OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters speaks in an interview with The Lantern Aug. 7 at Bob Evan's. Credit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports director

Former OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters speaks in an interview with The Lantern Aug. 7 at Bob Evan’s. Credit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports director

Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jon Waters was in court Friday for the first hearing of his lawsuit against the university.

Waters filed a lawsuit in September in the U.S. District Court against the university, OSU President Michael Drake and Provost and Executive Vice President Joseph Steinmetz. He said the university discriminated against him on the basis of gender and that OSU didn’t provide him with due process after an investigation into the band found it had a “sexualized culture.” The investigation added that he was aware of or reasonably should have been aware of that culture.

Waters was fired in July after a 23-page report was released that detailed the findings of the two-month investigation.

The former director said he will sue for a minimum of $1 million in compensatory damages in addition to seeking punitive damages, attorney fees and reinstatement.

In October, OSU filed a motion in federal court to dismiss Waters’ lawsuit. The university said Waters was fired because he knew of the sexually charged culture in the marching band, but didn’t address the problems.

The Friday hearing lasted approximately two hours, and was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge James Graham, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

During the hearing, Graham asked both sides about various aspects surrounding the decision to fire Waters, and divided the hearing into four legal arguments — whether OSU violated Waters’ rights to property, his rights to liberty, if OSU’s actions “shocked the conscience,” and Waters’ claims that he was a victim of gender discrimination — according to The Dispatch.

Graham now must decide if the case will continue.

Waters’ hearing comes several days after the second of two finalists for the band director position visited campus.

In January, Waters told The Lantern that he had reapplied for his position with the band, even though the university repeatedly told him there is no chance he will get his job back.

 

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