Over the weekend, a seventh former wrestler at Ohio State University came forward and accused Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) of doing nothing in the face of the largest sexual abuse scandal in U.S. sports history.
For weeks, Jordan has insisted that, while he was an assistant coach for the Buckeyes wrestling team in the 80’s and 90’s, he was completely unaware that team trainer Richard Strauss was systematically abusing hundreds of OSU athletes.
Three former wrestlers told NBC News that Jordan had to have known about the allegations, and did nothing to stop the abuse. Since then, four more former teammates have corroborated those accounts, saying there was simply no way Jordan didn’t know what was going on.
The seventh wrestler came forward on Friday in an interview with the Washington Post.
“Jordan definitely knew that these things were happening — yes, most definitely,” said David Range, who wrestled for Ohio State in the late 1980s. “It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence.”
Nobody has yet accused Jordan from engaging in any abusive behavior himself, but several of his former athletes — including some who considered Jordan a friend — have expressed their resentment that the congressman has denied even knowing about the abuse.
In a Politico report last week, other former Ohio State personnel described the wrestling team as a “cesspool of deviancy” during the period in which Jordan served as an assistant coach. Even Jordan’s supporters have acknowledged that the toxic culture was widespread and well-known. “It was pretty common knowledge it was going on, yes,” said Rob Archer, a Buckeyes wrestler in the early 90’s who came to Jordan’s defense.
Jordan himself acknowledged as much during an interview on Fox News Friday evening, seemingly contradicting his earlier pleas of ignorance when he told host Brett Baier “conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse.”
Jim Jordan changes his story, seems to acknowledge that he was aware that the team doctor was molesting wrestlers at Ohio State
"Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse." pic.twitter.com/QsSlwM4piU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 6, 2018
Part of the hangup appears to be over semantics. In the 1980s, exactly what constituted sexual abuse — as opposed to merely “inappropriate” or “creepy” behavior — was even less understood than it is today. Jordan has insisted no wrestler ever came to him with a story of “sexual abuse.” But Dunyasha Yetts — one of the first wrestlers to come forward, who says he asked Jordan to accompany him to Strauss’s office because he feared he would be groped — says it’s a difference without a distinction.
“Yeah, you can say we never told you those words because we didn’t know those words, which is true,” Yetts told Politico. “But for him to say he didn’t know? I asked him to come in there with me!”
Not only has Jordan remained unapologetic for his role in Ohio State’s still-unfolding scandal, he has threatened at least one victim of sexual assault with the capitol police.
The accusations have threatened to upend Jordan’s once-promising political career. His fellow far-right extremists in Congress were urging Jordan to seek a leadership position in the Republican caucus once retiring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) relinquishes his title as Speaker of the House, and Jordan himself has said he wishes to succeed Ryan as Speaker, a position held by other Republican luminaries including former wrestling coach Dennis Hastert.