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A woman has lost her massage license in the state of Ohio after a scheme targeting Ohio State football players for sexual encounters.
Ohio State revealed the findings of an independent investigation into the woman's interactions with football players on Thursday. The investigation found that five Ohio State football players had consensual sexual encounters with the woman after she had offered massage therapy services and that over 20 players had received messages from the woman through social media.
The woman, whose identity was redacted in the documents released by the school, was ordered to permanently surrender her license on March 30.
"Our first concern and top priority is for the safety and well-being of our student-athletes," Ohio State said in a statement. "Within days of learning of these allegations, the university quickly launched an independent investigation of the matter. An experienced legal and compliance resource, Barnes & Thornburg, led the independent investigation, and has completed its work. Barnes & Thornburg found that no university or athletic department staff had knowledge of the massage therapist’s activities. Her actions were part of a scheme to exploit football student-athletes and were in violation of her state license. 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."
‘Calculated effort to harass and get close to’ football players
The school hired the Barnes and Thornburg law firm to handle the independent investigation after the school learned of a March 2020 complaint against the woman in March of 2021.
The woman, 41, lives approximately two hours northeast of Columbus. According to the firm, she “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.”
The investigation also noted that it didn’t uncover any evidence the woman tried to extort the football players or had contact with any other players at the school outside of the football team.
The firm said it talked to over 100 football players and over 80 had either no or very limited knowledge of the woman’s existence.
Woman would send players sexual messages
The investigation found that the woman primarily targeted players from 18 to their early 20s. The five players who said they had sexual encounters with the woman said they were consensual.
Twenty other players simply received massages from the woman and multiple players noted that she had gotten close or brushed their groin areas during the course of her massages. Four players detailed instances of inappropriate and unwanted conduct by the therapist.
The report noted the woman would contact players via social media and would sometimes send overtly sexual messages to them.
“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. Some of the messages merely had sexual undertones, but in other instances the messages were both sexually explicit and included naked pictures.”
The investigation included an interview with the woman. The report said she claimed to have a "deep concern" for the players she massaged.
When asked about her interaction with them, she alleged a deep concern for the OSU football student athletes who were “clients,” and she referred to them as “kids” or “her boys.” Then, she produced a three-ring binder that contained the NCAA rules, in an apparent attempt to bolster her assertion of concern. However, when asked if she kept an appointment book, she said “no” and that she kept all the information on her “clients” in her head. She was then asked if she had any other documentation of her business, and she provided a receipt book. As discussed above, the receipt book does not meet ordinary book-keeping standards and is inconsistent with multiple statements made by the OSU football student athletes who were candid in their interviews, despite the difficult topic. It also appeared that many of the receipt slips had been recently completed.
The report also noted that Ohio State had a “robust and thorough compliance program” and that no NCAA violations took place because the school was unaware of the woman’s actions. In addition to losing her massage license, the woman has also been banned from campus and the school has sent her a cease and desist order prohibiting contact with any members of the football program.
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