Former Ohio State wrestlers claim GOP rep ignored sexual abuse on team

Former Ohio State wrestlers claim GOP rep ignored sexual abuse on team
© Anna Moneymaker

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 'time out' on facial recognition tech | DHS asks cybersecurity staff to volunteer for border help | Judge rules Qualcomm broke antitrust law | Bill calls for 5G national security strategy Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech Amazon shareholders vote down limits on facial recognition software MORE (R-Ohio) is being accused of turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of wrestlers he coached at Ohio State University two decades ago, according to an NBC report.

Former wrestlers have accused Dr. Richard Strauss, the OSU wrestling team doctor from the mid-1970s to 1990s, of sexually assaulting them during his tenure with the team. Strauss died in 2005. 

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Three wrestlers told NBC on Tuesday that Jordan knew about Strauss's sexual abuse and did not report him.

Jordan denied the allegation. The congressman, who was OSU’s assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994, has said multiple times he was not aware of the abuse until players began speaking publicly about it earlier this year. 

One former wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, told NBC he alerted Jordan to Strauss’s inappropriate behavior multiple times.

“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 said to NBC.

"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," Jordan’s spokesman, Ian Fury, said in an email to The Hill.

Strauss has been accused of sexually assaulting male athletes on 15 varsity sports teams. 

Former wrestler Mike DiSabato, who first brought allegations against Strauss that prompted OSU to open an investigation, said that he estimates Strauss "sexually assaulted and/or raped a minimum of 1,500/2,000 athletes at OSU from 1978 through 1998."

In the NBC report, former wrestlers described Strauss’s behavior as an open secret, casting doubt on the idea that Jordan could have been unaware. 

“It was a head-scratcher to me why [Jordan] would say he didn’t know anything,” one former OSU wrestler said. “Doc [Strauss] used to take showers with the team even though he didn’t do any workouts, and everybody used to snicker about how you go into his office for a sore shoulder and he tells you to take your pants down.”

The university is currently investigating the allegations against Strauss, which range from inappropriate touching to sexual assault. An outside firm, Perkins Coie LLP, is investigating “the extent of the university’s knowledge” of the allegations against Strauss, according to a June 7 OSU press release

Jordan's spokesman said the congressman has not been questioned by the university's investigators. 

“Despite claims to the contrary, Congressman Jordan’s office has not received a request for interview from the investigative team. We have demanded that they send us the supposed communication and remain willing to assist in any way that we can," the spokesman said.

Jordan, a founding member of the powerful House Freedom Caucus, has been floated as a replacement for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.), who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

Updated at 7:57 p.m.