Former OSU wrestler sought compensation from school over sex abuse allegations

Former OSU wrestler sought compensation from school over sex abuse allegations
© Greg Nash

A former Ohio State University wrestler who came forward with allegations last week that a doctor sexually abused athletes on the team sought compensation from the school last month, according to a copy of an email obtained by The Hill.

In an email sent to both OSU and the law firm conducting an independent investigation, former OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato said he had no intention of causing a “public relations nightmare” but warned that he would “pursue other avenues toward resolution” if a meeting was not set up with university representatives to discuss a potential settlement for the victims.

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OSU confirmed that it received letter from DiSabato on June 26, first reported by The Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday, but offered no further comment. 

The email was also sent to Ohio state Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D), who confirmed to The Hill that he received the email.

“Our intent is to expeditiously reach a negotiated settlement, without conflict, that compensates the victims for the trauma they have suffered because of this sex abuse, deals with the individual that knew of this situation, but chose to do nothing about it, and corrects the atmosphere that may still at exist at OSU,” DiSabato wrote. “I request a meeting with all OSU representatives deemed appropriate within the next two weeks to commence the settlement discussions in this matter.”

“If I do not hear from you within this time period, I will assume OSU does not wish to enter into discussions with the victims directly and will be forced to pursue other avenues towards resolution,” added DiSabato, who noted he was not yet represented by counsel. “At that point we will all lose the opportunity to control the extent of the public relations damage and the true winners in this situation, as in the case with Michigan State, will be the lawyers.”

A week after sending the letter, DiSabato and at least four other wrestlers have come forward claiming that powerful conservative Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMore than 100 ex-Ohio State students share allegations of sexual misconduct by doctor: AP The Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ohio) knew of or must have known about allegations of sexual abuse against Dr. Richard Strauss while Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at OSU decades ago.

OSU launched an independent investigation in April into the allegations against Strauss and whether enough was done to protect the students. Strauss killed himself in 2005.

But the latest accusations against Jordan have thrown the investigation into the national spotlight.

“Doc Strauss was a serial groper of our bodies, including of our testicles,” DiSabato told CNN last week. “I consider Jim a friend, but for whatever reason, he has made the decision to deny something that absolutely happened. He had knowledge of it. His locker was next to Doc Strauss.”

Other former Buckeye wrestlers, like Nick Nutter, say they experienced sexual abuse at the hands of Strauss, but say they believe Jordan was unaware of what was going on.

Fourteen other wrestlers went on the record Tuesday to refute claims that Jordan knew or must have known that student athletes were allegedly being abused by Strauss in the 1980s and '90s.

“Jim Jordan was almost intimidatingly a goody two-shoes. I never heard the man cuss. If I was near him, I would never even say the word penis because I would hate for him to judge me and think I’m a sinner and deviant,” Nutter told The Hill in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “Of all people, he is the guy I would never, ever tell. Because 1. I’m embarrassed and 2. I wouldn’t want him to think I’m a deviant person.”

Nutter said Strauss would make excuses to grope his genitalia — such as “checking his lymph nodes” — even when he would go in with a broken finger.

The All-American wrestler says every time he was injured, he would grapple with whether it was worth a visit to Strauss.

“Every time I got hurt I would think, how bad is it? Will it go away on its own? I figured my co-pay was a groping to get medicine,” he told The Hill. “I probably let some sicknesses go on because I didn’t want to go see Dr. Strauss.”

Jordan, who has adamantly denied he knew about the allegations of abuse, has called the timing of the accusations against himself “suspicious.” In an interview with Fox News last week, Jordan also pointed out that DiSabato has a criminal record and has said the wrestler has a “vendetta” against Jordan’s family and the school.

DiSabato has a long history of litigation, including a 2007 suit against OSU over a merchandising dispute, according to the university’s student newspaper.