A notable figure to surface during the Bishop Sycamore scandal was Jay Richardson, a former Ohio State and NFL linebacker who’s now an analyst for Sinclair-owned ABC6 and Fox 28 in Columbus. Around the discussions of that “school” last August and September, Richardson told ABC6 colleague Haley Nelson he had “zero involvement with Bishop Sycamore,” despite an August 27 summary judgement against him, Bishop Sycamore coach Roy Johnson, and The Richard Allen Group in a fraudulent misrepresentation claim brought by First Merchants Bank. The claim centered around financing for Christians of Faith Academy, a predecessor to Bishop Sycamore that was eventually shut down. Bishop Sycamore was launched not long after, with a very similar vision and leadership group to COF.
Back in August, Richardson (seen above with some of the Bishop Sycamore players on his local high school sports show on Fox 28 in 2019, in a still-up video, the second video on this page) told Nelson “My legal team is working to get my name removed from this. I have not signed any documents, no involvement with that particularly other than trying to help the school get resources at one point.”
But AA’s reporting at that time cast strong doubt on Richardson’s claims of “no involvement.” In addition to the court filing, we found a Bishop Sycamore crest with his name on it, various corporate paperwork listing him and Johnson as business partners in other entities. We also spoke to local journalist Andrew King about his interactions with Richardson regarding COF Academy.
While it’s still a bit murky just how much Richardson’s involvement with COF Academy carried over to Bishop Sycamore, if at all, his involvement with COF has now led to a financial judgment against him. That’s from the First Merchant Bank lawsuit, which saw a judgement issued this week against Johnson, Richardson, and The Richard Allen Group. That judgment is for more than $105,000 in compensatory damages and more than $15,000 in interest. Here’s that full document:
Court judgement against Ler… by Andrew Bucholtz
The document indicates that the damages hearing here was held on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that Johnson and Richardson appeared pro se (they represented themselves), and that no one appeared to represent The Richard Allen Group. It says the plaintiff (First Merchants Bank) presented “very credible” testimony from David Hunt, with accompanying exhibits, that Johnson cross-examined Hunt but Richardson did not, and that neither Johnson nor Richardson testified. The key part of this comes on the second page: here’s a screenshot of that.
This would certainly seem to raise some further questions about Richardson’s involvement with COF Academy and Bishop Sycamore. It also raises questions on ABC6 continuing to prominently feature Richardson in its sports coverage, and on them continuing to keep that September article where Johnson said he had “no involvement” with Bishop Sycamore up on their website without adding an update. We’ve reached out to ABC6 for comment, but have yet to hear back.
Whether this bank will be actually able to recover this amount is a good question. Actually getting damages can prove quite tricky and could be further complicated by the fact Johnson is and has been involved in myriad of legal matters seeking damages. However, Johnson has been paid for his participation in a planned HBO documentary, and Richardson played five years in the NFL. Perhaps this matter will be behind both of them soon enough.
In any case, though, it looks like Richardson’s “legal team” was not successful in “working to get my name removed from this.”
Awful Announcing is continuing to cover the Bishop Sycamore story. Know anything? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org