Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) claims he is being “bullied” by former Ohio State wrestlers who accuse the congressman of turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of hundreds of student athletes while he worked as the assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994.
According to a CNN report Wednesday, Jordan will contact the Capitol police after receiving emails from one of the wrestlers who has accused Jordan of doing nothing about the sexual abuse by the team doctor, Dr. Richard Strauss.
A source in Jordan’s office told CNN that the emails were threatening because of how many had been sent but provided no other details about why the congressman believes he is being “bullied.”
CNN did report that emails between Ohio State wrestler Michael DiSabato and the congressman obtained by CNN show DiSabato sent Jordan an email on April 24 expressing concerns about the sexual abuse scandal, and asked Jordan to help given his knowledge of it. DiSabato told CNN there was no response.
CNN reported that DiSabato has been sending emails for “months” and Jordan didn’t respond because he didn’t want to “encourage the behavior.”
Jordan denies knowing anything about the abuse, telling reporters in Ohio Wednesday, “We knew of no abuse, never heard of abuse. If we had, we would have reported it. If, in fact, there’s problems, we want justice for the people who were victims, obviously, and as I said, we are happy to talk with the folks who are doing the investigation. But the things they said about me just were flat-out not true.”
But investigators counter Jordan, telling the Columbus Dispatch they’ve contacted Jordan and got no response.
NBC first reported the allegations that Jordan had turned a blind eye to Strauss’ abuse earlier this week. In April, Ohio State University announced they were looking into allegations that Strauss, who died in 2005, abused team members while he served as the team doctor from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s.
Jordan, who worked as the assistant coach for part of Strauss’s tenure, has repeatedly denied knowing anything about the abuse. Three former wrestlers say otherwise.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler whose allegations against Strauss prompted the school to open the investigations, told NBC. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
DiSabato also told NBC that he reached out to Jordan earlier this year to tell the congressman he planned to go public with his story. Jordan told him to “please leave me out of it,” DiSabato said. “He asked me not to get him involved.”
In an interview with CNN, DiSabato said Jordan saw Strauss committing acts of sexual abuse, and Dunyasha Yetts, another former Ohio State wrestler, told NBC he and others told Jordan about Strauss.
“I remember I had a thumb injury and went into Strauss’ office and he started pulling down my wrestling shorts,” he said told the network. “I’m like, what the fuck are you doing? And I went out and told Russ and Jim what happened. I was not having it. They went in and talked to Strauss.”
In June, DiSabato wrote in an email to an attorney appointed as legal counsel to Ohio State, “Strauss sexually assaulted male athletes in at least fifteen varsity sports during his employment at OSU from 1978 through 1998.”
Athlete victims, DiSabato told the attorney, included members from the football, basketball, wrestling, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball, lacrosse, gymnastics, ice hockey, soccer, baseball, tennis, track and cross country programs.
He added, “Based on testimony from victim athletes from each of the aforementioned varsity sports, we estimate that Strauss sexually assaulted and/or raped a minimum of 1,500/2,000 athletes at OSU from 1978 through 1998.”