WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several former wrestlers coached by U.S. Representative Jim Jordan at Ohio State University have told NBC News that the Republican congressman was aware the team doctor was molesting them, and, in some cases, was told directly.
Jordan, whose name has been floated as a possible successor to retiring House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, has said since Ohio State announced in April that it was investigating former team doctor Richard Strauss that he was previously unaware of the molestation allegations.
Former wrestler Mike DiSabato told NBC News that before going to the university with the molestation charges, he reached out to Jordan, who told him to, “Please leave me out of it.”
“At the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on,” DiSabato told NBC News.
Another former wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, said he and others had explicitly told Jordan about Strauss’ behavior.
“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 spokesman Ian Fury said in an email.
“He has not been contacted by investigators about the matter, but will assist them in any way they ask, because if what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation, and justice,” Fury added.
Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, was Ohio State’s doctor for the wrestling team from the mid-1970s until the 1990s. Jordan was the assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994, according to the NBC report.
The conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks amped up a campaign this week to support Jordan’s candidacy to lead House Republicans.
But Ryan has endorsed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to succeed him in the job.
Reporting By Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Alistair Bell