Columbus, OH- The cheerleading coach for Ohio State University has been fired amid allegations that she failed to act on sexual misconduct from two assistant coaches.
The events leading up to Lenee Buchman’s dismissal began six months ago when two of her assistant coaches were investigated for sexual harassment. Both Eddie Hollins and Dana Bumbrey were fired after the university found “sufficient evidence” they violated the school’s sexual harassment policy, according to the Lantern.
In April of this year, Ohio State received complaints that Hollins and Bumbrey created a hostile environment by sexually harassing cheerleaders. The Lantern reported that Hollins targeted male cheerleader while Bumbrey targeted female cheerleaders.
Hollins was accused of sending sexually charged text messages to Cody Ellis, a young man on the squad. In one text message, Hollins offered to replace the receiver’s boyfriend in a sexual encounter. When Buchman was made aware of the text messages, she removed the young man from the squad, which could be viewed as retaliation for complaining.
Buchman told the university that she received complaints from the cheerleader in July of 2012 and confronted Hollins and ordered him to stop sending the text messages. But she never reported the allegations to OSU and instead tried to handle the situation herself.
Assistant coach Bumbrey was accused of making repeated sexual jokes and comments to female cheerleaders. The coaches, however, said the comments and joke were just playful and common among team members.
After an investigation, OSU found that the allegations against Hollins and Bumbrey had merit and the two men were fired. Buchman was then sent to sexual harassment training.
“First, she either permitted or fostered the sexually hostile and inappropriate cheerleading environment reflected in the results of the Bumbrey-Hollins investigation,” said John C. Camillus, the attorney representing Cody Ellis. “If she didn’t foster it, she at least didn’t do anything to stop it,” he said.
As a consequence of being let go from the squad, Ellis lost his scholarship and other benefits. He hopes that the interim coach will allow him back on the squad.
A letter from the university’s director of human services said Buchman was “did not follow the proper channels” of reporting the initial complaint. The letter stated OSU coaches are “required to report any complaints that a reasonable person would believe to be sexual harassment,” according to the Lantern. OSU fired Buchman this week for failing to follow their sexual harassment policies.
Steve Chorba has been named interim head coach. He has been an assistant coach at Ohio State since July 2013 and was hired to replace one of the fired coaches.
Schools must be notified of sexual harassment because federal laws require they investigate allegations immediately and conclude their investigation within 60 days. If they don’t adhere to that policy they can find themselves in violation of Title IX and face a hefty civil penalty. They also risk being investigated by the Department of Education who has been very tough on colleges and universities that fail to address sexual harassment on their campuses.