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Jaamal Berry named in lawsuit, Ohio State won’t defend him

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

Ohio State tailback Jaamal Berry has been accused of assault, battery and ethnic intimidation in a civil lawsuit filed Thursday and OSU will not be providing legal assistance or representation.

Jerry Emig, assistant director of athletics communication, said this is because “(Ohio State) can do so only when a student-athlete’s eligibility is in question.”

The lawsuit is based on an incident that occurred Friday at 2:20 a.m. on Vine Street, near the North Market, involving Berry and the plaintiff.

The plaintiff was “struck in the face with a closed fist,” according to the Columbus police report.

Emig said suspension of Berry is possible and he is unaware of Berry’s own legal representation.

“This is not a criminal charge,” Emig said. “If he is charged with committing a criminal offense, he will be suspended from the team.”

During a press conference Tuesday, head coach Luke Fickell said the situation regarding Berry was ongoing and that he would let legal proceedings take their course.

“We know that we represent, in everything we do, something much bigger than ourselves,” Fickell said. “Nothing goes unseen. Wherever we are, we represent a group much larger than ourselves. Don’t be mistaken that we’re looking into it and we take this very seriously.”

When asked if Berry would play on Saturday against the Badgers, Fickell reiterated that the team was looking into the situation, saying, “We take this very seriously.”

Emig said, “His status for this weekend is to be determined.”

The plaintiff in the suit filed as John Doe “to protect his privacy and to avoid retaliation by his assailant and others,” according to court documents. The Lantern has chosen not to name him.

The court documents state “the plaintiff was attacked without provocation by defendant, Jaamal Berry.”

The attack had racial motivation, according to court documents.

“Berry was heard yelling vulgarities at plaintiff before the attack and then bragging to an independent witness following the attack that ‘I just f—ed up a white kid.'”

The identity of the independent witness is also kept anonymous in the court documents. That witness identified Berry on the scene as she said she knew him and the other man he was with.

After the suspects left the scene, “Jaamal Berry then admitted to the independent witness that he had committed the assault,” according to court documents.

The plaintiff told The Lantern that he did not know Berry before the incident, but identified Berry as the attacker at the scene after being shown his picture by Columbus Police, and later by the prosecutor’s office.

“Plaintiff was able to make a positive identification of Jaamal Berry as his attacker,” according to court documents.

The plaintiff was treated at the hospital following the incident for injuries to his head, face, neck, back and hand. He was also ruled as having a possible concussion and eye damage, said Edwin Hollern, the plaintiff’s attorney.

Hollern said the remedy for the incident is compensatory damages and punitive damages, asking each in excess of $25,000, according to court documents.

“You can’t put it back together, you can’t undo what happened, all that can be recovered are monetary damages,” Hollern said.

The victim’s mother, who requested anonymity, said they are not pressing charges for monetary reasons, but because her son was assaulted and that OSU has not properly disciplined Berry.

OSU officials were not immediately available to comment Thursday night. Earlier this week, athletic director Gene Smith said the athletic department is aware of the situation and that he has spoken with Berry.

“If Jaamal is charged, he will be suspended pending the outcome of the case,” Smith said.

Berry did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

On Sept. 28, Berry was involved in what an OSU police report described as an “assault” on another student. Berry was admitted and released from the OSU Medical Center and no charges were filed. In this incident, two males were witnessed “wrestling on the ground” in the South Oval, according to a police report.

In 2009, Berry was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in Miami, Fla.

Berry dressed for the Michigan State game on Oct. 1, the first game after his Sept. 28 incident. He has appeared in the past two football games and has had three rushes for five yards so far this season.

 

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