Ex-Ohio State wrestler claims Jim Jordan asked him to deny abuse allegations

A former captain of the Ohio State wrestling team on Tuesday testified before Ohio’s legislature that Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats MORE (R-Ohio) asked him in 2018 to deny allegations that abuse by a former team doctor was widely known within the program.

Adam DiSabato, a member of the Ohio State wrestling program in the late '80s and early '90s, made the allegations amid a public hearing on legislation that would allow victims of former athletic department doctor Richard Strauss to waive the statute of limitations and sue the university for damages. An investigation found that Strauss abused at least 177 young men at the school's facilities between 1979 and 1998. 

DiSabato said during the House Civil Justice Committee hearing that Jordan, an assistant wrestling coach from 1986-1994, knew about the sexual harassment and abuse that was taking place. He also asserted that the congressman repeatedly called him in July 2018 after his brother, Michael DiSabato, told press outlets that Strauss's abuse was common knowledge. 

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“Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for a half-hour," he said, according to video of the hearing. "That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on there." 

He also asserted that he eventually asked his lawyer to tell Jordan to stop calling him. 

DiSabato is one of several former Ohio State wrestlers who filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that it ignored victims' complaints of Strauss's continued abuse. Jordan has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the abuse.

Ian Fury, a spokesman for Jordan's office, told Cleveland.com that the new testimony was "another lie."

He said in a statement to The Hill that “Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it."

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During the hearing, DiSabato accused Jordan of throwing wrestlers he once coached "under the bus." 

"He’s a coward," he said. "He’s not a leader. He's a coward. I was captain of these guys. That's why I'm here. I would never abandon my team. He abandoned us."  

Cleveland.com noted that Tuesday's hearing took place after House Speaker Larry Householder (R) accused Ohio State University's attorney of prolonging mediation negotiations. The university has said that it is committed to “reaching a monetary solution" with the victims. 

Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, has been accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of athletes across 15 varsity sports. The abuse wasn't reported until 1996, the year when he stepped down. Since reports of his knowledge first surfaced in 2018, Jordan, a top Republican ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE, has repeatedly said that he would have spoken out had he known about the abuse. 

More than 350 men have reportedly sued the university over the abuse. A lawsuit filed last November claims that Jordan was told directly about misconduct from Strauss. An unnamed referee, identified as John Doe 42, claimed that Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson said, “yeah, that’s Strauss," after being told that the doctor masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match.

"The idea I’m not going to defend our athletes when I think they’re being harmed is ridiculous,” Jordan said after the suit was filed. “This is just — this is someone making a false statement.”