Congressman Jim Jordan says he didn’t know anything about allegations of widespread sexual abuse on the Ohio State University wrestling team when he was a coach there more than 20 years ago.
NBC News reported this week that former wrestlers Jordan coached are alleging the powerful Freedom Caucus Republican knew about abuse that allegedly occurred at the hands the team doctor, Richard Strauss, and did not stop it.
In a statement and interview with Politico, the the Ohio Congressman denied the accusations and said he would “have done something about it” if he had known.
“It’s not true,” Jordan told Politico. “I never knew about any type of abuse.”
“If there are people who are abused,” he added, “then that’s terrible and we want justice to happen.”
A spokesman for Jordan said he would “assist” Ohio State University’s investigators in any way — despite not yet being contacted by them.
“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,” the statement released Tuesday said.
“If what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation and justice.”
The NBC News report this week detailed accounts from three former wrestlers who Jordan worked with as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994. Earlier this year, Ohio State launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Strauss, who died in 2005. He was the doctor for the team from the mid-1970s through 1990s.
The three former wrestlers said Strauss would grope and sexually assault athletes while treating them — and the widespread abuse was common knowledge in the locker room.
The former athletes accused Jordan of lying for denying that he knew of the abuse.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler who said he was abused by Strauss, told NBC. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what’s going on.”
Dunyasha Yetts, another former wrestler, told NBC he told Jordan about an instance when Strauss allegedly pulled down Yetts’s pants, and he and his teammates talked to Jordan several times about the abuse.
“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 told NBC.
DiSabato, who now runs a sports and entertainment agency in Ohio, came to Ohio State with the allegations after he saw news of Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of gymnasts he was supposed to treat. Michigan State University, as a result, paid more than $500 million to the dozens of survivors who suffered abuse from Nassar.
Ohio State’s investigation into Strauss and the alleged abuse came as a result of DiSabato coming forward, NBC reported.
Jordan was elected to Congress in 2007 and has become a powerful conservative leader who has been named as a potential candidate to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House.