COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Cleveland-area massage therapist accused by Ohio State of targeting football players for sexual encounters has denied those allegations in a pair of interviews.
Speaking in a 20-minute radio interview on Cleveland’s FM-WMMS, Robyn Bassani, 41, said that while she did have sexual relationships with two Ohio State football players, she was not “acting for her own sexual gratification” as a report released by the university alleged.
“Most of the players that I worked with, the vast majority, I didn’t have to reach out to,” she said. “They reached out to me via a referral program I was running. As far as the university saying I was targeting these young men, to me it feels like their way of staying in charge of the situation and making me the villain so they could keep their hands clean.”
According to the 15-page report released Thursday, Bassani had consensual sex with five football players. None were minors, and 20 other players reported having received non-sexual massages from Bassani, who disputed those numbers and said she had sexual relations with only two players.
No NCAA violations occurred, and no crimes were committed. If a sexual relationship began, Bassani said, she would end the client-masseuse relationship. Bassani would drive from Cleveland to an apartment complex where most players lived, she said, and go from apartment to apartment for scheduled appointments.
“There have been numerous players since this report was released who said, ‘What the hell?’ ” she said. “Everybody is very confused on this report because the players know that’s not me.”
Read Ohio State report on investigation
Reached for comment by The Dispatch, Bassani referred to her radio interview and declined to speak further. After a 12-year career as a professional masseuse, Bassani surrendered her license March 30 as part of the investigation that was started by a complaint filed March 14, 2020, with the Medical Board of Ohio. The board then informed the university, which hired the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg as special counsel and began an investigation that included interviews with 117 former and current players, 44 coaches and staff members and Bassani.
By surrendering her license, Bassani said she thought the situation would go away.
“I was told by the investigator for the Ohio State Board that if I didn’t (surrender my license), then I would be subject to a citation and then a hearing in which the players would be individually subpoenaed to testify in open public record,” she said. “Not wanting to put them through that, I said, ‘OK, I’ll surrender it.’
“(They) had assured me if I do this quietly and quickly then I could spare them the scandal or public embarrassment and I did. Obviously, that was a lie.”
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Read letter from Ohio State banning massage therapist
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Masseuse in Ohio State football investigation denies targeting players