A onetime captain on Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) former Ohio State University wrestling team warned Saturday that it’s “going to get worse” for the powerful congressman regarding the sex abuse scandal involving his old team.
Dozens of athletes accused the late university doctor Richard Strauss of sexual abuse, a number of them while Jordan was the assistant coach from 1987 to 1995. At least three athletes and a referee have said they discussed the abuse directly with Jordan, but that he took no action to stop it. The staunch Donald Trump supporter has denied he was told of any abuse or knew of it.
Former wrestler Adam DiSabato told MSNBC’s Joy Reid 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. DiSabato insisted Jordan was fully aware that Strauss was molesting athletes during physicals.
The sexual abuse was “blatant knowledge throughout our wrestling team,” he told Reid. There are “others that are going to come out on my behalf” to reveal information, and it’s “just going to get worse,” he warned.
For Jordan to “keep denying” he knew what was going on is “just digging himself a bigger hole,” he added.
DiSabato testified before the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee on Tuesday 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.”
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.
Former Ohio State wrestler Dunyasha Yetts also said that he (and other teammates) spoke to Jordan directly about Strauss. Other ex-wrestlers have said it was impossible for Jordan not to know what was going on.
Dozens of 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.
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.
When asked about DiSabato’s interview with Reid, the congressman’s communications director, Ian Fury, told Cleveland.com: “Another lie. Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had he would have dealt with it.”