Today, the Republican U.S. Representative of Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, Jim Jordan, was accused of knowing about the sexual abuse of wrestlers by team physician, Dr. Richard Strauss, and then turning a “blind eye” to the abuse during his tenure as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
Congressman Jordan held the assistant coach position from 1986 until 1994. The late Dr. Strauss passed away in 2005, but the investigation into allegations that he molested athletes between the 1970s and 1990s was not announced until April of this year. In the bombshell NBC News report, three wrestlers stated that Strauss was known to shower with the wrestlers and touch them sexually during their appointments. Strauss’ first alleged victim to come forward, Mike DiSabato, revealed to NBC News, “Based on testimony from victim athletes from each of the aforementioned varsity sports, we estimate that Strauss sexually assaulted and/or raped a minimum of 1,500/2,000 athletes at OSU from 1978 through 1998.” The investigation has reportedly received sexual assault reports from multiple former OSU athletes of 14 different sports.
DiSabato, a former wrestler, later told CNN, “I considered Jim Jordan a friend. But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.” Despite this, Jordan’s office put out two statements, with both of them claiming that he had never heard of any abuse and that it was never reported to him. When DiSabato was asked how he could be positive the congressman knew, he stated that Jordan had acceded to the abuse in multiple conversations. At one point, he claims that when the abuse was mentioned to Jordan (whose locker was next to Strauss’), the congressman reportedly told DiSabato, “If he ever touches me, I’ll kill him.” Another former OSU wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, stated that he and others hold told both the head coach Russ Hellickson, and Jim Jordan about the abuse between 1993 and 1994. He said, “I remember I had a thumb injury and went into Strauss’ office and he started pulling down my wrestling shorts. I’m like, what the f— are you doing? And I went out and told Russ and Jim what happened. I was not having it. They went in and talked to Strauss.”
Jordan is currently campaigning for re-election in the 2018 midterms. His Democratic opponent, Janet Garrett, released a statement through her website today after the reports were published by news outlets all over the country. She stated, “Any allegation of sexual abuse—or complicity regarding such abuse—is very serious. That damage cannot be undone. For any teacher, protecting kids is the absolute first priority—and I say that as a former kindergarten teacher. Ohio State has an obligation to get to the bottom of this with a thorough and fair investigation. Jim Jordan has an obligation to cooperate fully with that investigation.”
The NBC News report is the first major scandal that Jordan has ever had to face during a congressional campaign, but only time will tell whether Ohio State’s investigation will find Jordan complicit in covering up the abuse. The Ohio State Athletics sex abuse scandal is the latest to rock the headlines after the USA Gymnastics scandal, which resulted in team doctor, Larry Nassar, being sentenced to between 40 and 125 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct after sexually assaulting 265 female athletes and at least 1 male athlete. Even earlier, in 2011, the Penn State University sex abuse scandal saw former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, sentenced to between 30 and 60 years in prison for molesting children for over 15 years through his youth charity, The Second Mile.
As of July 2018, Jordan has not yet been contacted for an interview by Perkins Coie LLP, which is the firm conducting the independent investigation on behalf of Porter Wright, who is OSU’s counsel in the matter. Wright was appointed as legal counsel by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. In a May 2018 statement, OSU announced that the case had also been sent to the Columbus Division of Police and Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for any possibilities that a criminal investigation is launched in the future.
Check back soon for updates on the Ohio State University sex abuse investigation.