Ohio State University fired two of its cheerleading coaches in May amid allegations of sexual harassment towards its cheerleaders, FOX Sports reports, and one former cheerleader has come forward claiming that he was kicked off the team for making accusations.
Cody Ellis' lawyer says that he was subjected to harassment and sexual comments from former coaches Eddie Hollins and Dana Bumbrey, who allegedly slapped male cheerleader's butts, touched them innapropriately and made innapropriate comments about female cheerleaders. After coming out to his coach that he is gay, Ellis also received sexually explicit text messages from Hollins, according to his lawyer.
Hollins has since said that he was "joking," though he did admit to showering in front of male cheerleaders, and similar allegations have been made towards him in the past.
Back in August, Ellis was permanently suspended from the team for allegedly having a "bad attitude," which he says was retaliation from head coach Lenee Buchman, "who was ordered to attend sexual harassment training for ignoring Ellis' complaints," FOX Sports reports.
Gary Lewis Jr., an OSU spokesman however, denies that this was the reason for Ellis' removal, citing federal student-privacy laws as why he could not reveal the real reason.
"Ohio State University has no tolerance for this type of behavior," Lewis told the Columbus Dispatch back in May, when the story of the harassment first broke. "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."
According to Ellis, his removal from the team was preceded by a suspension in July "over allegations that he sexually assaulted one of Hollins' friends," and though he was cleared by investigators, has not been allowed 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," Ellis' lawyer, John Camillus, told the Dispatch.