A second person has come forward to allege that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) knew of longtime Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss’ sexual misconduct during his two decades at the school ― and that he did nothing to stop it.
The charges are leveled in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 43 survivors Thursday, in which a referee identified as “John Doe 42” says Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match in 1994.
According to the suit, Strauss chose the shower closest to the referee in a room containing 18 other unoccupied showers. “Before he knew it, John Doe 42 realized that some part of Dr. Strauss’s body was touching him,” the suit alleges. “John Doe 42 looked up and saw Dr. Strauss masturbating while staring right at John Doe 42. John Doe 42 recoiled, said ‘What the hell, Doctor?’, and left the shower.”
When he notified then-head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson and assistant coach Jordan, he says he they were unfazed and waved it off as common behavior for Strauss.
“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” they responded.
“It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing so the attitude was it is what it is,” the referee told NBC News. “I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”
Jordan was a wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994, overlapping with Strauss, who held various clinical and medical faculty positions, including athletics team physician, from 1978 to 1998.
Over that time, Strauss committed at least 1,429 sexual assaults and 47 rapes on student patients, according to an OSU crime report released last month. That’s a sharp increase from an earlier independent investigation that found he’d sexually assaulted at least 177 students. Strauss died in 2005.
While the referee is the second person to say they directly reported Strauss to Jordan, numerous others have said Strauss’ misconduct was widely known. That includes former wrestlers and 22 former OSU coaches, who told investigators they were aware of complaints and rumors.
In 2018, four former wrestlers told NBC it was “common knowledge” that Strauss inappropriately touched student athletes during appointments.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” one of those wrestlers, Mike DiSabato, said at the time. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
“Jim Jordan knew, they all knew, and they did nothing,” he said.
The far-right congressman, one of President Trump’s fiercest allies, has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of Strauss’ decadeslong sexual abuses.
In a 2018 interview with Politico, Jordan said claims that he knew of Strauss’ behavior weren’t true, and that he “would have done something” about the abuse if he had known about it at the time.
“It’s not true. I never knew about any type of abuse,” he said. “If I did, I would have done something about it. And look, if there are people who are abused, then that’s terrible and we want justice to happen.”