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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Articles tagged: Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith disputes police report’s account of 2015 arrest

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More details of the domestic abuse allegations against former Ohio State assistant Zach Smith were released on Wednesday, but Smith’s ex-wife says there is at least one important detail in the police report that is inaccurate.

The police documents, which were not released publicly because Smith was never charged, were obtained by The Columbus Dispatch through an anonymous email. Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney, confirmed to Dan Murphy of ESPN that much of the details — including that she told police Zach pushed her into a wall and took the couple’s young son with him despite her opposition — were accurate. However, she says the police had some of the information mixed up from the 2015 incident and a previous incident she had reported in 2009.

According to the documents, Courtney told police in 2015 that Ohio State sent a lawyer to her home “convincing her to drop the charge because it would embarrass OSU if she proceeded with the prosecution.” She said she does not remember saying that.

“No way,” Courtney said. “I would have never said that.”

Courtney said she decided not to press charges against Zach after he assaulted her in 2009 following a conversation with Hiram deFries, a member of Urban Meyer’s staff whom Meyer has referred to as his “life coach.” Courtney confirmed on Wednesday that she met with deFries days after Zach was arrested in 2009, and she previously described the meeting to college football reporter Brett McMurphy.

“He said, ‘If you don’t drop the charges, Zach will never coach again,’” Courtney told McMurphy earlier this month. “‘He’s never hit you before. He was drinking. He’ll probably never do it again. You should think about giving him a second chance.’”

It’s worth noting that deFries is a former attorney, so it’s possible there was some confusion in 2015 when Courtney was discussing multiple instances of domestic violence.

Zach Smith has maintained his innocence, and he lashed out at McMurphy and ESPN on social media Wednesday. Meyer has been suspended for the first three games of the season for the way he handled the situation.

Urban Meyer apologizes to Courtney Smith in statement

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer heard the critics and has responded.

Meyer on Friday released a statement in which he apologized to Courtney Smith and her family for what they have gone through.

“My words and demeanor on Wednesday did not show how seriously I take relationship violence,” Meyer said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize. I was taught at a very young age that if I ever hit a woman, I would be kicked out of the house and never welcomed back. I have the same rule in my house and in the Football Program at Ohio State.

“Over the years, we have worked hard to educate and remind our coaches and players of the seriousness of relationship violence. I understand my lack of more action in this situation has raised concerns about this commitment. I once again apologize for this, and I extend my empathy to all women, men and families who are affected by relationship violence. This has been a real learning experience for me. I fully intend to use my voice more effectively to be a part of the solution.

“Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday: I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through.”

This is exactly what many people were waiting to hear from the coach. Though his defenders will question why Meyer should be punished for unproven allegations against Zach Smith, detractors will point out that he holds an extremely important leadership position and needs to set a proper example. That means taking domestic violence allegations seriously. His previous decision not to apologize to Courtney when given the opportunity on Wednesday made many think he did not care about her or view her as a victim. Ohio State’s internal investigation made it clear that Urban and wife Shelley did not believe Courtney’s allegations.

Why didn’t Urban Meyer apologize to Courtney Smith at press conference?

Urban Meyer

One of the most scrutinized and criticized aspects of Urban Meyer’s press conference on Wednesday was his decision not to apologize to Courtney Smith when given the opportunity to do so.

Meyer’s three-game suspension was announced on Wednesday at a press conference discussing the findings of an investigation by Ohio State University. During a Q&A portion of the session, Meyer was asked about Courtney Smith, the woman who claims she was assaulted by her ex-husband Zach Smith, a former Buckeyes coach.

“What message do you have for Courtney Smith?” Meyer was asked.

“Well, a message for everyone involved in this … I’m sorry that we’re in this situation. I’m just sorry we’re in the situation,” he said.

Meyer did not apologize to Smith, who claimed she was assaulted by Zach during their marriage. Courtney’s protective order filed against Zach led to his firing last month. Meyer’s decision not to apologize was met with widespread criticism as many viewed him as being insensitive to Courtney’s plight and the seriousness of domestic violence allegations.

So why would he decline to show any empathy towards Courtney? Perhaps the best explanation is that Urban, and his wife Shelley, do not believe Courtney’s allegations.

The investigation’s summary of findings states that both Urban and Shelley did not believe Courtney’s side of the 2009 and 2015 domestic violence allegations.

Here are the examples, along with the page in the summary of findings where the quoted material appeared.

Urban and Shelley did not believe Courtney’s 2009 allegation

“Coach Meyer and Shelley Meyer took away from the 2009 events that Courtney Smith was not being entirely truthful when she called 911 to have Zach arrested.” (page 4)

“Coach Meyer did not inform others at OSU about Zach Smith’s 2009 arrest. Coach Meyer has explained that he did not do so because no charges were filed and because he believed Zach Smith had not engaged in domestic violence in 2009.” (page 5)

Urban and Shelley did not believe Courtney’s 2015 allegation

“Because they believed Zach Smith’s denials and because there was no charge or arrest in connection with the 2015-2016 events, neither Coach Meyer nor AD Smith believed that there had been a violation or a potential violation of the law and therefore neither had reporting obligations regarding what they knew about the law enforcement investigation of Zach Smith.” (page 17)

“Shelley Meyer also maintains that she did not relay Courtney Smith’s expression of fear or allegations of abuse, including the photographs, to Urban Meyer at the time because she had doubts about the veracity of Courtney Smith’s allegations.” (page 8)

A big component of Urban Meyer’s defense is that he did not think Zach Smith assaulted his then-wife Courtney. That was his excuse for keeping Smith on staff until the protective order was reported. By not apologizing to Courtney in the press conference, maybe Urban Meyer feels he is doubling down on his stance that he does not believe Courtney’s allegations and therefore has nothing to apologize for. After all, if Meyer believed Zach Smith assaulted Courtney and still kept him on staff, that would have qualified as cause for termination.

Whether or not he truly believes Zach Smith is innocent, he has now tied himself to the defense and may feel he needs to stick with it.

Zach Smith’s attorney blames Courtney’s ‘vengeance’ for causing issues

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The attorney for Zach Smith says that the former Ohio State wide receivers coach’s ex-wife Courtney is to blame for all the issues surrounding the Buckeyes.

Ohio State on Wednesday night announced a three-game suspension for head coach Urban Meyer for his mishandling of Zach Smith, who was arrested multiple times for allegedly abusing Courtney.

Zach Smith has consistently denied abusing Courtney, which led to a statement from his attorney Brad Koffel on Wednesday.

“Zach Smith married a woman he should not have married,” Koffel said in a statement. “Vengeance against her ex-husband regrettably resulted in collateral damage to Urban Meyer, Gene Smith and The Ohio State University. Trying cases in the media is a dangerous precedent for every other coach in America.”

Meyer showed very little contrition towards Courtney Smith when speaking at a press conference on Wednesday. When asked what his message to her would be, he said, “I have a message for everyone in this, I’m sorry we are in this situation.”

An Ohio State reporter claimed earlier this month that the accusations from Courtney are part of a revenge ploy against Zach for cheating on her.

Courtney Smith says Ohio State never spoke with her about domestic violence case

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Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of a recently-fired Ohio State coach who has been accused of physically assaulting her on numerous occasions, said through her attorney on Monday that she fully intends to cooperate with the school’s investigation into the matter. But if and when she is interviewed about the incidents, Smith says that will be the first time.

Smith’s attorney, Julia Leveridge, released a statement saying her client was never contacted by Ohio State to discuss the allegations she made against her ex-husband Zach Smith.

“As her attorney, I can tell you that Ms. Smith is cautiously optimistic that The Ohio State University’s investigative committee will determine if proper reporting protocol was followed upon learning of the ongoing, abuse allegations against Zach Smith,” Leveridge said, via Brett McMurphy. “We believe the University must prioritize the safety and well-being of others above all else. While The Ohio State University has never contacted Ms. Smith to discuss these allegations, she will fully cooperate with the university’s current investigation.”

Leveridge also said Courtney has made “concerted efforts” to press charges against Zach, though he has never been convicted. The attorney also said her client has never been compensated for any interviews pertaining to the case and urged those who are engaging in victim-blaming to think before speaking.

“The cycle of abuse is complicated. Breaking free from years of violence takes tremendous courage and support,” Leveridge said. “Blaming the victim only contributes to the stigma that is already present in our society today. It should be unacceptable.”

Zach Smith has denied ever physically assaulting his ex-wife, but a text message uncovered by McMurphy appears to show him admitting to strangling her.

Urban Meyer has been placed on administrative leave by Ohio State, and the university said it expects to conclude its investigation in two weeks.

Text message appears to show Zach Smith admitting to strangling ex-wife

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A newly-released text message allegedly between Zach Smith and his ex-wife Courtney appears to show the former Ohio State assistant coach admitting to strangling her.

Smith went on the radio Friday and publicly denied ever abusing his ex-wife while they were together (full story here).

In response to Smith defiantly saying he had never abused Courtney, reporter Brett McMurphy, who has been at the forefront in reporting this story, released a new text message conversation. The messages allegedly took place between Zach and Courtney. In the exchange, Courtney references two times that Zach had picked her up by her neck and strangled her. “The abuse got worse bc u couldn’t stand me catching u in ur lies,” she says.

The other person in the conversation did not deny the charges, but simply responded, “I know!!!!!”

If those text messages are authentic, they would certainly damage Zach Smith’s side of the story. He claims to have never abused his wife despite a history of allegations suggesting otherwise. The person responding in those text messages did not even dispute the strangling claims.

Not only did Smith go on the radio Friday to defend himself, but Urban Meyer also issued a statement to defend his actions. Meyer is now admitting to reporting what he knew about the 2015 incidents involving Smith to his superiors, contrary to what he said at Big Ten Media Days last week.