Even before Zach Smith was fired as Ohio State assistant football coach, police records show a two-year string of stalking and domestic violence incidents between him and his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Powell Police Chief Gary Vest has no qualms about how his officers handled the cases.
Smith was Ohio State's head recruiter and receivers coach until July, when he was charged with trespassing in a dispute with Courtney. Smith's firing raised questions about his boss, head football coach Urban Meyer, and what he knew about Smith's history.
Courtney's first call to Powell Police came in October 2015. She and Smith were going through a divorce, and she was worried about a car following her. A few days later, after a different incident in which Courtney claims to have been physically abused, she filed a police report and requested a restraining order. But charges weren’t pursued.
Over the course of four and a half years, Powell Police were called nine times about incidents at Smith’s house.
Vest rejects the idea Smith might have received preferential treatment.
“I feel 100 percent certain that his position would’ve had nothing to do with whether or not he was charged or not charged,” Vest says. "Mercedes Benz or an old pickup truck, everybody gets treated the same--with respect. And follow the facts and let the facts be where they're at."
One report shows officers gathered evidence for domestic violence and felonious assault charges. Officers showed evidence to Delaware County prosecutor Carol O’Brien, but her office determined it didn’t have enough to pursue felony charges.
The department has held back some documents, Vest says, due to provisions in the victims’ bill of rights known as "Marsy’s Law" approved by Ohio voters in November 2017.
Smith was arrested and accused of battery against Courtney in 2009, while at the University of Florida. Charges were dropped there, too.
Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave this week, after reports emerged that called into question his statements that he didn't know about the 2015 incident.