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Fired Ohio band head's backers sets up legal fund

By: The Associated Press
August 1, 2014 Updated: August 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Friends of fired Ohio State University marching band director Jonathan Waters, who's accused of failing to stop salacious behavior among band members, have established a legal assistance fund to help him tell his side of the story.

The university fired Waters last week after a two-month investigation concluded he knew about but didn't stop a "sexualized culture" of rituals that included students being pressured to march in their underwear and to perform sexually themed stunts that yielded often-explicit nicknames.

Waters led the band since 2012 and created halftime shows considered revolutionary. Videos of the morphing and dancing images the band creates on the field have drawn millions of hits on YouTube and landed it in an Apple commercial.

Attorney David Axelrod said Friday that donations to the Marching for Waters Fund will help defray costs of "articulating Jon's record of achievements at OSU and defending his reputation."

Waters, who hasn't been sued and hasn't filed a lawsuit, said in a document released by his attorney this week that he was working to fix a vulgar culture "in dire need of change" before he was dismissed.

Waters detailed the changes he was trying to make in a seven-page document prepared when the university began investigating allegations of sexual harassment within the band. He said he instituted leadership retreats for section leaders and staff; hosted a national hazing-prevention event; ensured the band's formal dance was alcohol-free; and disciplined students who were behind an underground band newsletter, the Trip-Tic, which had grown increasingly vulgar.

Ohio State President Michael Drake has said the culture hostile to students that was uncovered by investigators was demeaning and unacceptable. He has enlisted former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery to lead a task force in a full review.

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