Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a highly influential conservative and a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, has been accused by former Ohio State University wrestlers he coached in the 1980s and ‘90s of overlooking evidence and direct complaints of sexual abuse by the team doctor, according to NBC News.
These accusations arose after a group of former wrestlers came forward earlier this year in the wake of the Larry Nassar trial to accuse Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, of abusing members of the wrestling team as their doctor from the mid-1970s through late ‘90s. The university announced in April that it was investigating these allegations.
Jordan worked as the assistant wrestling coach under former head coach Russ Hellickson. Hellickson has said that he tried to stop Strauss from showering with the students, but Jordan has repeatedly denied ever knowing about any allegations of impropriety.
“Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State,” his spokesman told NBC News.
The former wrestlers, however, have said that as Hellickson’s friend and as assistant coach, Jordan would have certainly heard about the allegations. Two also said they told Jordan directly about them.
“For God’s sake, Strauss’s locker was right next to Jordan’s, and Jordan even said he’d kill him if he tried anything with him,” one former wrestler said.
Another told NBC, “It was a head-scratcher to me why he would say he didn’t know anything. [E]verybody used to snicker about how you go into [Strauss’] office for a sore shoulder and he tells you to take your pants down.”
One former student, Mike DiSabato, led the others in speaking out. “I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” DiSabato said in a video. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
DiSabato also told NBC that he reached out to Jordan before going public about his accusations. “He asked me not to get him involved,” DiSabato told NBC.
The former wrestlers say that Strauss would shower with the students, despite not having exercised, and that he would inappropriately touch them during appointments, according to to NBC. The university has also confirmed that Strauss has been accused of molesting former athletes in other sports programs, as well as former student patients. According to NBC, Jordan is expected to be questioned in its investigation.