A former Ohio State University wrestler has accused Rep. Jim Jordan of pressuring him not to corroborate his own brother’s story of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the team’s doctor. Jordan was an assistant coach for the wrestling team in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and has been accused of turning a blind eye to rampant sexual abuse while he was there.
The accusation came from Adam DiSabato, the brother of Mike DiSabato, who was the first former student-athlete to reveal the alleged abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss. Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, is thought to have sexually abused more than 170 male students over two decades. In a public hearing for Ohio’s state legislature on Tuesday, Adam DiSabato condemned Jordan as a “coward” who tried to suppress the story even after his brother Mike came forward in 2018.
“Jim Jordan called me crying, crying, groveling, on the Fourth of July, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for half an hour,” DiSabato said. “That’s the kind of coverups going on here.”
He said that Jordan called him repeatedly, in a panic. “I had to have my lawyer call him, telling him to stop calling me.”
Adam DiSabato said that he had also reported the abuse to Jordan, who was the assistant coach at the time, and others associated with the university’s wrestling team. “They did nothing,” he said. “They told me they went to their superiors [who] told them to be happy where we’re at and keep our mouth shut.”
DiSabato made his feelings about Jordan explicitly clear. “He’s thrown us under the bus, all of us,” he said. “He’s a coward. He’s a coward. He’s not a leader. He’s a coward.”
Jordan has repeatedly denied that he knew about the abuse, claiming at one point that his accusers were politically motivated. A spokesman for the Republican congressman also said DiSabato’s comments about the phone calls were “another lie.”
While no direct evidence has indicated that that Jordan knew of the doctor’s behavior, an official report described it as common knowledge, and three people have now said they told Jordan directly.
An internal university investigation found that a number of unnamed school officials, including coaches, trainers, and administrators, were aware of the allegations against Strauss. The doctor was suspended from his job in 1996 after a patient accused him of fondling him in an examination. Other former patients accused him of groping them, showering with them, performing oral sex on them, and touching them in other inappropriate ways during phsyical exams. Many of the alleged victims, either unaware that men could be victims of sexual abuse or too ashamed to tell the truth, joked about the “open secret” of Strauss’ predatory behavior or described it as “hazing.”
A wave of lawsuits followed after the story broke. Two named Jordan directly. In July 2018, eight former wrestlers came forward to say they knew Jordan had been aware of the allegations at the time and did nothing. Mike DiSabato said in a video that he considered Jordan “a friend” but that “he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.” Another former wrestler alleged that Jordan had pressured the former head coach and others to cover for him.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus