Ohio State's Fired Marching Band Leader Breaks Silence

By: Kevin Conlon & Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
By: Kevin Conlon & Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN

(CNN) -- Ohio State's former marching band director is speaking out for the first time since the university fired him over the band's overly sexual culture.

Jonathan Waters was fired in July after a university investigation concluded he "should have known about sexual harassment that created a hostile environment."

Waters told CNN affiliate WBNS on Tuesday that he was "absolutely shocked by the one-sidedness of the report," and called his firing a "rush to judgment."

He also said that despite the school's conclusion to the contrary, he was sanitizing the marching band's historically tawdry culture that he first experienced as a sousaphone player in the 1990s.

"That cultural change is also evident in the many, many letters from current and former band members, which attest to Jonathan's efforts and concrete success at moving the band's culture in a positive direction," his attorney, David Axelrod, said Tuesday.

The investigation's report, released July 23, told of bawdy band member nicknames and risqué traditions such as the "midnight ramp," in which band members entered the stadium through a ramp wearing only their underwear.

Axelrod said Waters knew about some of the band's bad behavior, but he said he did "everything he possibly could to end it."

"You know he experienced inappropriate behavior as a rookie band member himself. He was deeply affected by it and that's why as band director he did everything he could to stop anything inappropriate," he said.

The attorney said Waters "left the band with a far improved culture from the one that he inherited," and slammed the report that ousted him.

"Had (investigators) chosen to talk with a representative sample of students and alumni, rather than its hand-picked, isolated sample, its conclusions would have been far different," he said.

The university responded Tuesday.

"The former director has yet to produce any factual examples that demonstrate any tangible attempts to change the band culture," said Gary Lewis, an Ohio State spokesman. "In fact, the former director himself acknowledged that he knew of the nicknames both as a student member of the band and as its director."

But Waters said "the university found no tangible evidence of cultural change because it conveniently chose not to look."

Ohio State also appointed two interim band leaders Tuesday.


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