As a leader of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-OH) is one of the commissars of ideological purity within the GOP. Less concerned about governing than in being purely ideological, Jordan and his followers regularly grind Congress to a halt by refusing to go along with anything that compromises their far-right ideas.
But Jordan now has a problem on his hands. Three former Ohio State wrestlers say that Jordan had to know that the team doctor was sexually abusing them when Jordan was the assistant coach for the team.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” Mike DiSabato told NBC News. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
Jordan served as assistant coach for the wrestling team from 1986 to 1994. The doctor in question, Richard Strauss, was the athletic director doctor from 1981 to 1995. He committed suicide in 2005.
The wrestlers approached the university earlier this year after the conviction of Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. DiSabato said that Strauss assaulted at least 15 student-athletes, not just wrestlers, during his time at OSU.
The wrestlers claim that Strauss’s abuse was an open secret. “Doc used to take showers with the team even though he didn’t do any workouts, and everybody used to snicker about how you go into his office for a sore shoulder and he tells you to take your pants down,” an unnamed athlete said.
Dunyasha Yetts, who wrestled in 1993 and 1994, told NBC that Jordan and former head coach Russ Hellickson were told about Strauss’s abuse.
“I remember I had a thumb injury and went into Strauss’ office and he started pulling down my wrestling shorts,” he said. “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.”
“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,” Yetts added.
However, DiSabato says that when he reached out to Jordan to let him know he was asking the university to look into Strauss’s behavior, Jordan told him, “Please leave me out of it.”
Jordan denies knowing anything about Strauss’s alleged abuse. In a statement, his office said, “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. 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.”
DiSabato, who recorded athletes recounting their encounters with Strauss, says that “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.”
OSU is conducting an investigation into the charges. So far, it has interviewed 150 people. No doubt, because of his former position, Jordan will end up having to explain what he knew.