Powell chief wants court to decide if Zach Smith records should be released

Zack Smith (WBNS-10TV)
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COLUMBUS - Powell Police Chief Gary Vest said he's been getting beat up for three weeks.

Despite numerous requests from news organizations, his department has refused to release its full closed investigative file related to a 2015 domestic incident involving the now-fired Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith and his ex-wife, Courtney Smith.

Ohio State doesn't have the file either.

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A six-person investigative panel is now looking into what Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer knew about that incident and if he - as he has said - followed the proper procedures in reporting that information to his superiors at Ohio State.

"I've had some conversations with one of the investigators. A lot of what we've been able to provide are just confirmations of who we have been in contact with or verifying a date that they've given. They've not been given access to the reports and quite frankly in fairness to them I think it's best that they didn't have access to them," Vest told 10 Investigates Thursday.

Vest says that the records are protected in part because of Marsy's Law, a relatively new law in Ohio designed to protect the rights of victims in court.

He points to a clause in Ohio's Constitution he says precludes his agency from releasing the information. The portion he's referring to mentions "all provisions of this section shall be self-executing and severable, and shall supersede all conflicting state laws."

He's wondering if those superseding state laws in Ohio's open records laws.

The Columbus-Dispatch has filed a complaint with the state's Court of Claims in an effort to recover the records.

Vest said Thursday he is happy to release them if the court decides that.

"If we take it to the court claims... then I feel that I've done my duty to protect the document to the point that it was reviewed by a third party at some impartial level.

He said if the court decides to release some, none or all of the documents: "I can live with all three choices."

Meyer remains on paid administrative leave. The university has said its internal investigation could be wrapped up Sunday if not before.

Powell Police have made several reports between the two parties in recent years, but his department drew more attention after Courtney Smith said in separate interviews that she was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her former husband, Zach Smit

Zach Smith had denied those allegations in an interview with 10TV. While he was arrested in 2009, the charges of aggravated battery against his then-pregnant wife were dropped several days later.

In 2015, Powell responded to a call of a domestic incident but no charges were filed.

"We did not feel that we could win a case in court with the information that we had," Vest told 10 Investigates Thursday.

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