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Powell Police Release Records About Former Ohio State Coach Zach Smith

In this Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, right, and then-assistant coach Zach Smith, left, gesture from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.
Sue Ogrocki
Associated Press

A trove of public records tied to fired Ohio State football coach Zach Smith depict a series of domestic incidents, concerned officers and previously-unknown cyberstalking accusations.

The records, many of which are redacted, include documents, text messages, photos and videos. 

Smith was fired from Ohio State in July, several months after he was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct. In October, Smith pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor chargeof disorderly conduct as part of a settlement in his case.

Powell Police's release sheds new light on a November 2015 incident during which Powell Police arrested Smithafter a dispute with his then-wife Courtney Smith. She raised concerns about cyberstalking after the email account for a security camera in her condo was deactivated without her knowledge. Previously, she found a different camera hidden in the home.

In both cases, she suspected her estranged husband. Courtney Smith gave authorities documents from a Google Drive indicating Zach Smith may have researched how to hack wireless networks, bought software that would log key strokes, and had an account with the company that made the camera found hidden in her condo.

The released records also show Powell Police officers seemed genuinely concerned about Courtney Smith’s safety. In body camera footage recorded in October that year, officer Ben Boruchowitz can be heard speaking with the Delaware County prosecutor’s office.

“She says that he on numerous occasions has grabbed her around the neck, lifted her off the ground until she couldn’t breathe and loses consciousness, and then threw her on the bed," Boruchowitz says. "And she seems extremely shaky, like it doesn’t seem to me like she’s playing it up."

He also relays that Courtney Smith feared for her and her childrens’ lives if pressing charges resulted in Zach Smith losing his job.

"She believes once we start initiating an investigation, and that he will - if he is fired, that he will come over to the condo and kill her and the kids,” Boruchowitz says. “Apparently she says he's said that. If she calls the police, and she has him fired, that he will kill her, is what she told me."

Authorities filed a civil restraining order against Zach Smith shortly afterward, but prosecutors determined there wasn’t enough evidence to go forward with felony charges.

When Smith’s restraining order became public, head football coach Urban Meyer fired him from Ohio State’s football staff, where he coached wide receivers. A university investigation determined Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith mishandled the incident, and didn’t adequately address a string of potential disciplinary issues.

They were suspended for the first part of this year’s football season. Meyer has since announced he will retire from the position of head football coach in January.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.