A total of six former college wrestlers have now accused Donald Trump defender Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of knowing about sexual abuse by the team doctor when he was an assistant coach at Ohio State University, CNN reports.
The six told CNN they were present when Jordan either heard or responded to sexual misconduct complaints about university doctor Richard Strauss. Eight others told the network that the physician’s conduct was an open secret in the university’s athletic department and that Jordan couldn’t have not known.
Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing anything about sexual abuse of his athletes when he was assistant coach from1987 to 1995.
The university stated in its annual crime report last year that Strauss committed at least 1,429 sexual assaults and 47 rapes during his 20-year tenure. Strauss was never charged and died by suicide in 2005.
Former OSU wrestler Tito Vazquez, now a public school teacher, told CNN: “When these complaints come and he [Jordan] pretends now that he had no knowledge of it, that’s betrayal in the highest level.” Vazquez said that Jordan’s repeated denials that he knew about the sexual abuse convinced him to come forward. He said when he complained to Jordan, he said: “I have nothing to do with this.”
Onetime wrestling captain Adam DiSabato warned last month that things would “get worse” for Jordan as others would come forward to accuse him of doing nothing once he knew of the misconduct.
DiSabato said on MSNBC last month that Jordan called him repeatedly to plead with him to contradict DiSabato’s own brother’s account in 2018 that he told Jordan of sexual abuse. Not only did the behavior affect his brother, but the sexual abuse was “blatant knowledge throughout our wrestling team,” DiSabato said.
DiSabato testified before the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee last month that Jordan was not only aware of allegations of sexual abuse but that the congressman begged others to cover for him. He said then that Jordan “called me crying, groveling ... begging me to go against my brother,” adding: “He’s a coward.”
DiSabato testified as the state House of Representatives considers a bill that would lift the statute of limitations for Strauss’s victims and clear the way for them to sue OSU.
Jordan told CNN: “The idea that I wouldn’t stand up for these athletes is ridiculous. I feel sorry for these guys, the fact that they aren’t telling the truth.”
Several athletes have filed lawsuits against the university for ignoring allegations of sexual abuse. One suit cites instances of Strauss “drugging and raping athletes,” and claims Strauss preyed on underage boys who participated in athletic events on campus.
A referee stated in a lawsuit filed late last year that Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at the university — and that he reported the encounter to Jordan. “Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson responded, according to the lawsuit.
OSU announced on Friday that it had reached a monetary settlement with sex abuse survivors in 11 out of 18 pending cases.