Former Ohio State marching band director Jon Waters filed a second lawsuit against OSU on Friday, this time accusing the university of defaming him and ruining his personal and professional reputation.
Waters and his lawyers filed the lawsuit in the State of Ohio Court of Claims. They presented the former director’s argument in a 32-page document that explained the circumstances surrounding Waters’ firing and how the decision has impacted his personal life, as well as his search for future employment.
Waters is seeking $3 million in damages — $1 million for each of the three claims he makes in the document: false light invasion of privacy, defamation and slander per se.
In the documents filed on Friday, Waters and his lawyers put an emphasis on an investigation into the band overseen by Chris Glaros, assistant vice president of compliance operation and investigations for the Office of Compliance and Integrity.
The two-month investigation determined there was a sexualized band culture and that Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it. That investigation led to Waters’ firing on July 24.
In the defamation lawsuit, Waters and his lawyers argued that the investigation’s report was “incomplete, skewed, rife with material omissions and distorted more likely to appease the Department of Education than to afford basic fairness to Waters,” and that OSU “through its trustees, officers and employees” ignored this fact and instead used details in the report to cast a false light on Waters.
“As a direct and proximate result of Dr. Drake’s and other OSU trustees’, officers’ and employees’ slander, Waters has suffered and is continuing to suffer humiliation, frustration, sleeplessness and great mental anguish, and other money damages and special damages,” the document stated.
In the document, Waters and his lawyers also said they want the court to find that Drake, Glaros and OSU spokesman Chris Davey “acted with malicious purpose, in bad faith or in a wanton and reckless manner and should be held personally liable for (their) statements and actions.”
The Glaros report and the university’s subsequent decision to publish it, as well as a video statement from Drake and a partial recording of an interaction between Waters and a band member that Waters was unaware of, led to an “avalanche of negative publicity,” Waters and his lawyers said in the document.
They added that OSU has since embarked on a “continued campaign to destroy Waters’ reputation,” which is evidenced, they said, by Waters’ lack of job offers following his termination.
“Waters sought new employment by applying for over forty different positions with college and high school marching bands. Despite his previous renown as one of the best marching band directors in the United States, Waters has received no job offers as a result of OSU’ s false and misleading statements about him,” the document said. “Waters has reason to believe that OSU continues to disparage him with other potential employers as well, thereby severely impacting his ability to secure gainful employment.
The second lawsuit comes two weeks after U.S. District Court Judge James Graham ruled that Waters has a legal basis to sue OSU for “reverse sexual discrimination” but threw out other complaints, which included Waters’ assertion that OSU did not give him due process when he was fired.
In an emailed statement, OSU said it is prepared to fight both lawsuits.
“This new filing only confirms that Mr. Waters’ claims in federal court and his lawsuit there are without merit and failing,” the statement said. “Ohio State stands firmly behind the actions taken regarding Mr. Waters’ termination and will vigorously defend this lawsuit as it has his first one in federal court.”
In his first lawsuit, Waters sued for a minimum of $1 million in compensatory damages, in addition to seeking punitive damages, attorney fees and reinstatement.