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The Cleveland-area massage therapist that lost her license after allegedly targeting Ohio State football players for sexual encounters denied those allegations in a series of interviews on Friday, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The massage therapist, Robyn Bassani, said that she did have sex with the two Ohio State players in question but insisted that she was not “acting for her own sexual gratification.”
“Most of the players that I worked with, the vast majority, I didn’t have to reach out to,” Bassani said on FM-WMMS, via the Dispatch. “They reached out to me via a referral program I was running. As far as the university saying I was targeting these young men, to me it feels like their way of staying in charge of the situation and making me the villain so they could keep their hands clean.”
Ohio State accuses massage therapist of targeting football players
Ohio State released the findings of an independent investigation into Bassani’s interaction with football players on Thursday. The university, which redacted Bassani’s name from the report, said that she had consensual sexual encounters with five players after offering massage therapy services to them, and that more than 20 players had received massages from her after connecting over social media.
The woman was ordered to permanently surrender her license in March. The school said that Bassani “operated her massage scheme to make contact with OSU football student-athletes. She appeared to be driven by her desire for physical and sexual contact with members of the OSU football team.”
“Her actions were part of a scheme to exploit football student-athletes and were in violation of her state license,” the school said in a statement, in part. “In addition, Ohio State does not believe the massage therapist’s actions trigger NCAA rules or form the basis for NCAA violations. While no self-reporting is required, Ohio State proactively shared the exploitative behavior with the NCAA, and a report has been made to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office."
The investigation also accused Bassani of sometimes sending overtly sexual messages to players over social media, and said that four players detailed instances of inappropriate and unwanted conduct.
“In most situations, the massage therapist initially made her offer of massage therapy to the OSU football student-athletes via social media, then would often send several follow-up messages,” the report said. “Some of the messages merely had sexual undertones, but in other instances the messages were both sexually explicit and included naked pictures.”
Bassani: ‘The players know that’s not me’
Bassani said that she surrendered her license because she thought that it would end the investigation and make it easier for the players involved.
“I was told by the investigator for the Ohio State Board that if I didn’t [surrender my license], then I would be subject to a citation and then a hearing in which the players would be individually subpoenaed to testify in open public record,” she said, via the Dispatch. “Not wanting to put them through that, I said, ‘OK, I’ll surrender it.’
“[They] had assured me if I do this quietly and quickly then I could spare them the scandal or public embarrassment and I did. Obviously, that was a lie.”
Bassani also said that she has heard of multiple players involved who have been very confused by the report and allegations levied against her.
“There have been numerous players since this report was released who said, ‘What the hell?’” she said, via the Dispatch. “Everybody is very confused on this report because the players know that’s not me.”
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