Ohio State fired two cheerleader coaches, the school confirmed this week, in response to allegations that the coaches had sexually harassed the school’s cheerleaders.
Now, one of the accusers says he was kicked off the cheerleading team by the head coach in retaliation.
Cody Ellis’ lawyer says he was subjected to sexual comments from Eddie Hollins and Dana Bumbrey, who also slapped male students’ butts and touched them inappropriately, and that the coaches also made inappropriate comments about the female cheerleaders.
Furthermore, Ellis received sexually explicit text messages from Hollins after he revealed to the coach that he is gay, his lawyer said.
Hollins told university investigators it was all just joking between jocks, though he admitted showering in front of male cheerleaders even though he’d been the subject of similar allegations in the past.
“Ohio State University has no tolerance for this type of behavior,” said Gary Lewis Jr., an OSU spokesman, who confirmed to the Columbus Dispatch that the coaches were fired in May. “The university conducted a complete and thorough investigation and found that the behaviors of Hollins and Bumbrey were inconsistent with university values and violated university policies.”
However, Ellis was permanently suspended from the team in August — allegedly for having a bad attitude, but he says it was retaliation by head coach Lenee Buchman, who was ordered to attend sexual harassment training for ignoring Ellis’ complaints.
But Lewis denies that Ellis’ removal from the team had anything to do with the case; he would not reveal the reason, citing federal student-privacy laws. Buchman did not return calls by The Dispatch.
Ellis says his removal was preceded by a July suspension over allegations that he sexually assaulted one of Hollins’ friends. Ellis was cleared by investigators, but Buchman would not allow him back on the team.
“This retaliation by the head coach is despicable, and the university’s unwillingness to protect students who come forward as victims of sexual misconduct is equally abhorrent,” said Ellis’ lawyer, John Camillus.