Courtney Smith said Wednesday night that she told police in 2015 that she feared for her life because of a pattern of abuse exhibited by her then-estranged husband, former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith.
Courtney Smith said she went to the police station in Powell, Ohio, on Oct. 26, 2015, to file a domestic assault report. According to an incident report from that date, which was obtained by the Columbus Dispatch, she told a detective that Zach Smith -- then living elsewhere -- came to her condominium the previous night, pushed her into a wall and took their young son with him despite her objections.
She confirmed to ESPN the details in the Dispatch's article were largely what she remembered telling police nearly three years ago, except for a claim that she had previously been approached by attorneys from Ohio State and asked to drop charges against Zach Smith.
According to the Dispatch, the 2015 police report said that Courtney Smith told police that Ohio State sent a lawyer to her home after a previous incident in hopes of "convincing her to drop the charge because it would embarrass OSU if she proceeded with the prosecution." Smith said she doesn't remember telling police about any such conversation.
"No way. I would have never said that," she said Wednesday night.
Courtney Smith said she did tell police that she dropped charges against Zach Smith in 2009 when the couple lived together in Florida. Zach Smith had worked as a graduate assistant for the Florida Gators under Urban Meyer. She said that she was approached in 2009 by a Florida football staff member, Hiram deFries, who told her that pursuing charges would damage Zach Smith's career. Courtney Smith's encounter with deFries has been previously reported. DeFries, who is now employed with Ohio State's football program, was formerly an attorney.
The City of Powell, Ohio, and its police department have refused to release details of the incident report to the public because Zach Smith was not charged with a crime. Courtney Smith said she and her attorney also have been denied access to the detailed police reports from the 2015 incident. The Dispatch said Wednesday that it received the detailed report through the mail from an anonymous sender.
Smith, as recently as Wednesday on Twitter, says he did not beat his wife.
Zach Smith was fired from his position as Ohio State's wide receivers coach on July 23 after past allegations made by Courtney Smith started to come to light in a report from college football reporter Brett McMurphy. Meyer, now head coach at OSU, said the following day that he was unaware of the 2015 police investigation, but he later backtracked from that statement. He has been suspended for the Buckeyes' first three games of the season in part because of the way he misrepresented what he knew about the 2015 situation.
The incident report obtained by the Dispatch outlines a series of past abuse allegations made by Courtney Smith. She told police that Zach Smith "threw her into a wooden stair" in January 2015 and "cut her hand open with a tin can" in October 2014.
Courtney Smith showed police photos of her bloody hand and bruises on her arms. When asked about the photos, Zach Smith said the bloody hand came from a can of chewing tobacco that Courtney Smith was attempting to pour on him in his sleep. He said he tried to grab it from her and squeezed her hand inside the sharp, tin edges in the process. He said the bruises in other photos came from him, but that he only put his hands on her in self-defense and so that he could remove himself from the situation.
"I guess you would have to be there," he said when asked how acting in self-defense could create bruises on his ex-wife's arms. "If someone is being aggressive with you and you are trying to defend your actions with that person, and you try to grab their arms to stop the aggression, get them out of the way for you to get through a doorway to get out of the situation, then it's very possible. I don't know what else to tell you. All I know is that I have never hit my wife."
Courtney Smith said she was in contact with detectives from the Powell Police Department for roughly seven months while they investigated the claims she made in October 2015. She said she was never given a reason why charges were not filed.