GOP Rep. Jim Jordan Accused Of Ignoring Claims Of Sexual Assault While Ohio State Wrestling Coach
Former student athletes at Ohio State University have alleged that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), head of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, failed to take action on molestation complaints he had received from students against the then team doctor more than two decades ago.
In April, Ohio State University announced that it was conducting an investigation into accounts that Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, abused members of the school’s wrestling team while he served as team doctor from the late 1970’s until the mid-1990’s.
Strauss and Jordan’s tenure at the school overlapped for a brief period after Jordan was hired as the school’s wrestling coach, which he maintained from 1986 to 1994.
Jordan, who is now a powerful GOP member whose name has been floated as a possible replacement for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after he retires later this year, has repeatedly denied having any knowledge about Strauss’s alleged crimes until accusations arose this spring.
An official statement released by a spokesman for Jordan’s office stated that “congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as coach at Ohio State.”
It was later amended to include the congressman’s unwavering support and, if need be, assistance, to law enforcement officials investigating the incident. “He has not been contacted by investigators about the matter but will assist them in any way they ask, because if what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation and justice,” the statement read.
However, Jordan’s account is directly contradicted by three former students who went on record with NBC News. One said, “it was common knowledge that Strauss showered regularly with the students and inappropriately touched them during appointments.” Another former student even said he had approached Jordan directly about the abuse however nothing ever came of it.
The school’s former head wrestling coach and Jordan’s mentor, Russ Hellickson, said in a recent interview conducted by former wrestler and student Mike DiSabato, that he had confronted Strauss and told him he was being too “hands on” with the students.
DiSabato, whose allegations initially sparked the school’s investigation into Strauss called Jordan a “liar.” DiSabato, who said he had “considered Jim Jordan a friend,” added that “at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
Another student, and a former teammate of DiSabato’s, who was not identified stated that while he never confronted Jordan directly about Strauss that it was still impossible for Jordan to have avoided hearing rumors “because it was all over the locker room.”