Ryan defends Jordan amid Ohio State abuse claims: He is 'a man of integrity' 

Ryan defends Jordan amid Ohio State abuse claims: He is 'a man of integrity' 
© Anna Moneymaker

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNew Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders House Dem: Party's aging leaders is 'a problem' Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday vigorously defended Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanNew Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders Department of Education launches investigation into OSU sexual abuse allegations Jordan: More Obama-era officials should lose security clearances MORE (R-Ohio), who is facing allegations that he ignored reports that a team doctor was sexually abusing college athletes while Jordan was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University (OSU) decades ago.

“Jim Jordan is a friend of mine. We haven’t always agreed with each other over the years, but I’ve always known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty and a man of integrity,” Ryan told reporters on Wednesday.

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Ryan also said that the bipartisan Ethics Committee had no jurisdiction to investigate Jordan under House rules because the alleged incidents occurred before the Ohio Republican was elected to Congress. Democrats have filed an ethics complaint against Jordan.

Roughly a half-dozen former Ohio State wrestlers have come forward to accuse Jordan and other coaches of failing to protect them from sexual abuse at the hands of the team doctor, Richard Strauss, during the 1980s and '90s.

Jordan, a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has vehemently denied knowing about or seeing any sexual abuse while he coached at OSU, though he has said there was some “locker room” chatter about the doctor.

More than a dozen other former OSU wrestlers and six other coaches said they believe his account that he did not know about abuse.

Ryan said Wednesday that he called Jordan over the weekend to “check in” with him after Jordan's nephew, a wrestler at the University of Wisconsin, died in a car accident last week. Ryan said they also discussed the Ohio State controversy.

During his remarks to reporters, Ryan made clear that the sexual abuse allegations against Strauss, who died in 2005, were very serious and should be thoroughly investigated by the university.

“I also want to make sure Ohio State conducts a review of this doctor and what he did. That is important so that campuses are safe. And I’m glad Jim is supporting that review,” Ryan said.

“With respect to ethics, the Ethic Committee here investigates things that members do while  they are here, not things that happened a couple decades ago while they weren’t in Congress.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) similarly backed Jordan earlier this week as he pushed back against claims that he ignored the alleged abuse at OSU.

On Tuesday night, the Freedom Caucus, the powerful conservative group that Jordan founded in 2015, voted on a motion to express support for Jordan as he deals with the Ohio State scandal.