Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan Accused Of Covering Up Sexual Abuse At Ohio State

Jim Jordan, who heads the powerful House Freedom Caucus, is being accused of ignoring reports of sexual abuse by a team doctor while he was a coach at The Ohio State University.

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who heads the powerful House Freedom Caucus and is being prodded by supporters to run to succeed Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, is being accused of ignoring reports of sexual abuse by a team doctor while he served as a coach at The Ohio State University:

news report on Tuesday accusing Representative Jim Jordan of ignoring accusations of sexual abuse as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University has left a cloud over the powerful congressman as conservative activists put him forward as potentially the next speaker of the House.

The university announced in April that it had started an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against a former team physician, Dr. Richard Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.

The report, by NBC News, said that three former wrestlers said it was commonly known that Dr. Strauss showered with students and touched them inappropriately during appointments, and that Mr. Jordan, an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994, must have known about the abuse. Mr. Jordan, a Republican, has denied that.

“Jim knew this — there’s no ifs, ands or buts,” Michael DiSabato, one of the former wrestlers named in the NBC account, said Tuesday in an interview. “It boggles my mind that he would take the position that he’s taken.”

A spokesman for Mr. Jordan, a founder of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus who represents a solidly Republican district in Ohio, said the congressman was unaware of any abuse.

“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,” the spokesman, Ian Fury, said in a statement. “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.”

Doug Andres, a spokesman for Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said: “These are serious allegations and issues. The university has rightfully initiated a full investigation into the matter. The speaker will await the findings of that inquiry.”

Mr. Jordan is one of the most prominent conservatives in Congress. With Mr. Ryan retiring at the end of the year, Mr. Jordan was likely to emerge as an important figure as House Republicans consider their next leader. Conservative groups have urged him to run for speaker, and although his elevation to that post was considered unlikely, he and other Freedom Caucus members were expected to influence the selection of Mr. Ryan’s successor.

More immediately, Mr. Jordan has stepped forward as one of President Trump’s most visible, aggressive and undaunted defenders in the House, helping lead a Republican counterinvestigation of those F.B.I. and Justice Department officials who are investigating potential connections between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference efforts.

(…)

Mr. DiSabato said the abuse perpetrated by the convicted former Olympics gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar had prompted him to alert Ohio State about Dr. Strauss in late March.

Before meeting with university officials, he said, he had contacted Mr. Jordan, with whom he said he spoke regularly. He said that Mr. Jordan asked him not to get him involved. Concerned in mid-April that Ohio State might ignore the accusations, he said he emailed Mr. Jordan asking for help, but heard nothing back.

Dunyasha Yetts, the captain of the wrestling team for the 1993-1994 season, who was named in the NBC story, also implicated the congressman. He said in an interview on Tuesday that he had confided in Mr. Jordan multiple times about “the way Strauss performed physicals on us.”

Dr. Strauss’s inappropriate touching of athletes was open knowledge, he said, and he remembered talking about it with Mr. Jordan on road trips, in the sauna and after practices.

“Coach Jordan knew what was going on, 100 percent,” Mr. Yetts said. “I don’t know how he could have forgotten because this was traumatic for all the athletes.”

In addition to stating that he had no knowledge of any reports of abuse during his time as a coach, Jordan has, as noted, said that he’s never been contacted about these charges. However, the law firm representing Ohio State contradicted that statement in a statement of its own, so it’s not clear that Jordan is being entirely forthcoming about anything at this point. Jordan is also being contradicted regarding what he knew and when he knew it by several men who were part of the Ohio State wrestling program in the 90s, including a handful who say that they were subjected to what was clearly sexual abuse by the team doctor, who has since passed away, that Jordan was well aware of what was going on, and that he failed to report the matter to either law enforcement or to higher-up university officials.

All of this brings up obvious comparisons to two other scandals that have embroiled Big Ten athletic programs in recent years. The most notable, of course, is the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which led to the firing of legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno and criminal charges against Sandusky that currently have him serving a prison sentence that will effectively mean that he will die in prison. That sandal also lead to civil lawsuits against Penn State that have been largely settled at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, as well as sanctions from the NCAA that were ultimately lifted several years later. More recently, the athletic department at Michigan State University has come under scrutiny due to the fact that Larry Nassar, who has pled guilty to sexually abusing dozens of young women who were part of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics program, was also a team doctor and employee at that school.

At this point, it’s unclear if the Ohio State allegations are as far reaching as the Sandusky or Nassar cases since the investigation is just starting to become public, but the fact that it involves a Congressman could make this a high-profile case indeed. As noted, Jordan is already a powerful force on Capitol Hill due to his leadership of the House Freedom Caucus even though he does not, as of yet, have a position in House GOP leadership. His caucus has been one of the chief obstacles that both former Speaker John Boehner and Speaker Paul Ryan have had to deal with in pushing legislation through the lower chamber of Congress. This has given Jordan an important, and some would argue outsized, role in shaping budgetary and tax issues as well as the debates over health care reform and immigration, especially over the past eighteen months. Additionally, Jordan is being prompted by many colleagues to challenge Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the upcoming race to succeed Paul Ryan as Speaker, which will be voted on when the new GOP Caucus meets for the first time after the midterm elections. While Jordan has not formally announced his candidacy for that position, he has stated that he intends to be “involved” in the decision making process in some significant manner. Quite obviously, these allegations could have an impact on his ability to mount a challenge to McCarthy as well as his career in Congress depending on which direction they head.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    Of course the investigation should play out. But one thing we know for sure: no weight should be given to any of his denials. As a Tea Partier and a member of the Freedom Caucus his stock in trade is lies. Lies about Obama. Lies about Hillary. Lies about immigrants. Lies about football players. His desire to be taken at his word is frankly ridiculous.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    He was the assistant coach and didn’t notice a naked adult showering with his students? Bullshit.

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  3. Kathy says:

    Just once, I’d like to hear one of these kinds of people say “Yeah, I knew, but I was too much a coward/jerk/reprobate to do anything about it.”

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  4. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Kathy:

    It’s the money. Athletics–mostly football and basketball, true–bring in huge sums to colleges and universities. No one wants to jeopardize that. The big money alumni donors don’t want to hear about it. Wink at it, cover it up, ignore it.

    And if some male and female students get raped or abused? Ya gotta break eggs to make an omelet. Right?

  5. teve tory says:

    “Did you threaten to subpoena phone calls and emails?” -Jim Jordan

    “No sir, and there’s no way to subpoena phone calls.” -Rod Rosenstein

  6. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But one thing we know for sure: no weight should be given to any of his denials.

    Careful now.

    Jim Jordan doesn’t have much to deny here. “I didn’t know” may not be the most satisfying answer, but when sexual abuse is revealed, it’s going to be the most common one, for parents, authority figures, and confidants alike.

    This is clearly an attempt to connect Jim Jordan to crimes he did not commit to advance a political agenda. It might work.

    But it probably won’t. (This will no doubt be seen as a defense of Jordan rather than what it is, a critique of a very weak case with some performative aspects.)

    @Kathy:

    Just once, I’d like to hear one of these kinds of people say “Yeah, I knew, but I was too much a coward/jerk/reprobate to do anything about it.”

    Surely you realize why no one says this, right?

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    Let’s also remember Dennis Hastert (R-IL), longest serving Speaker of the House, originator of the Hastert rule, ex high school wrestling coach, out of prison and I believe still on supervised release, having pled guilty to structuring payments of hush money, apparently for abuse committed during his coaching days.

  8. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Pearce: Either he was contacted by Ohio investigators or he wasn’t.
    Jordan states no one contacted him. The Ohio State investigators say they did. Someone is lying.

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  9. reid says:

    Regardless of this issue, Jordan sure seems like one of those guys at work you really hate to have to deal with. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been angry and unpleasant.

  10. James Pearce says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Jordan states no one contacted him. The Ohio State investigators say they did. Someone is lying.

    Or we’re dealing with two different interpretations of what it means to be “contacted.” From the link above:

    However, lawyers hired by OSU to probe the allegations said Jordan was contacted — both by phone and email — to request an interview, but he never responded.

    OSU says they made two attempts to contact Jordan, but no contact had been made.

    Now you’re probably thinking, AHA! That means Jordan is lying. He said no one tried to contact him, and they tried!

    And it’s only when you look up that you realize that you’re in the weeds.

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Don’t put words in my mouth in your rush to carry Jordan’s water. I said two things: the investigation should continue. And that, as someone who has built a career on lies, his denials should be given no weight. If you want to defend him, have at it. But don’t make things up.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    If they can rally behind a President who boasts of grabbing women by the house cat, why not a rally behind a house member who stands by and does nothing as a man grabs younger men by the inappropriate euphemism?

  13. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If you want to defend him, have at it.

    Defend him? Ha!

    His “crime” is being a Trump-supporting congressman, not covering up sexual abuse from his wrestling days. The investigation, which differs only in import from the one your company does when a lunch goes missing from the breakroom fridge, will speak to one of those issues.

  14. NW Steve says:

    @James Pearce:

    Now you’re probably thinking, AHA! That means Jordan is lying. He said no one tried to contact him, and they tried!

    And it’s only when you look up that you realize that you’re in the weeds.

    I looked up and found a person, in a position of authority, who failed to display an ounce of integrity or honorable behavior. If that is the “weeds” for you, so be it, but it for me it is a point that deserves, in fact requires, that I note it and judge him accordingly.

    Will it all have any effect on his political future – hell no. As far as I can tell the true believers are unable to judge anything one of theirs do as unacceptable. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is important.

    If this is the “weeds”, then we’ve completely lost the thread of what citizenship is all about.

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    And it’s only when you look up that you realize that you’re in the weeds.

    Actually, no. The specifics of Strauss’ conduct render it felonious. If Jordan was aware of the felonious conduct – and the testimony of multiple credible witnesses suggests that he was so aware – and failed to report it to law enforcement, he can also be criminally charged.

    I agree that this is probably about torpedoing him politically – which is just fine with me – but that doesn’t change the fact that, as presented, the facts indicate that he acted criminally in failing to report what he knew and can be prosecuted for that failure. Asserting that he effectively dodged OSU lawyers looking into the matter only lends credence to his guilt.

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  16. An Interested Party says:

    This certainly does make his self-righteous questioning of Rod Rosenstein seem quite hollow…I mean, if he really cares so much about the truth, he should have felt that way when he worked at Ohio State…

  17. Guarneri says:

    Well it’s nice to see he’s been given a fair trial here at OTB. All that’s left now is to hang him.

    BTW – when do we get to hang Obama, Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Strozk…for conducting an attempted coup?

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  18. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Of course the investigation should play out. But one thing we know for sure: no weight should be given to any of his denials.

    Agreed.

    That said, I always discount denials in criminal matters where there is a credible accusation. Why? Because an innocent person will deny wrongdoing, but so will a guilty person. Therefore a bare denial is insufficient.

    An alibi, or some other proof or indication of innocence, is a different matter.

  19. al Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Well it’s nice to see he’s been given a fair trial here at OTB. All that’s left now is to hang him.
    BTW – when do we get to hang Obama, Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Strozk…for conducting an attempted coup?

    That must have been some tasty refreshing Kool Aid.
    Also, FYI, Trump and his Electoral College friends took care of that coup stuff for you.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce:

    This is clearly an attempt to connect Jim Jordan to crimes he did not commit to advance a political agenda.

    Various Ohio State wrestling alumni and the law firm representing the University are doing this only to get Jordan for political reasons. That is one impressivly deep deep state we got there.

  21. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    he can also be criminally charged.

    “Lock him up,” right?

    I agree that this is probably about torpedoing him politically

    Do you think it’s wise to hijack a sexual abuse case to torpedo Jim Jordan politically?

    Me, I think that torpedoing Jim Jordan, Trump’s biggest ally, can be better accomplished by other means.

  22. Blue Galangal says:

    @MarkedMan: As a staff member at The Ohio State University, he was a mandated reporter. Full stop.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: Despite Pearce’s using politics to defend his guy, this isn’t particularly about politics. What we have is an all too common case of a proven and chronic liar being accused complicity in a crime. The media will be full of a handsome and sincere Jordan explaining patiently that it is all a misunderstanding. But of course his entire career (which, admittedly, happens to be politics) has been built on telling gullible people the lies they want to hear. Jordan is a slime bag who ruined peoples lives and careers with lies in order to promote a racist agenda. The idea that he is too moral to have covered up sexual abuse of children is nonsense. It doesn’t make him guilty of this crime, and no one should be convicted without a fair and unbiased investigation, but part of that investigation is to see if he has moral failings that would allow this behavior. The answer to that, a posteriori, is “Yes”

  24. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What we have is an all too common case of a proven and chronic liar being accused complicity in a crime.

    So wait….you think Jordan is actually being accused of a crime?

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: There is no “think” about it. If he knew the abuse was taking place and did not report it, that’s a crime. The former wrestlers are saying that is exactly what happened.

  26. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If he knew the abuse was taking place and did not report it, that’s a crime.

    Yes, I understand that if these allegations are true it would be very bad for Jim Jordan.

    If the allegations aren’t true, though…..guess who it would be “very bad” for?

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Pearce, you really, really seem to be upset that Jordan has been accused by these wrestlers of ignoring sexual abuse of minors.

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  28. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    you really, really seem to be upset that Jordan has been accused by these wrestlers of ignoring sexual abuse of minors.

    Nah, I’m more upset that the left has gone bats in the belfry nuts.

    Try this: Beat Jim Jordan in an election.

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  29. wr says:

    @James Pearce: Would you like to spend a little time defending Dennis Hastert, while you’re at it? After all, he, too, was a powerful white Republican man, so the charges that he molested boys he was coaching must also be false and politically motivated.

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  30. James Pearce says:

    @wr: You are definitely the target audience for this story, wr, if you think Hastert is an appropriate analogue for Jim Jordan…

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    Try this: Beat Jim Jordan in an election

    I just came back to this thread to add something for the record (a fifth wrestler has come forward saying he was in the room with Jordan when players were complaining about being groped) when I happened to reread your comment above.

    So your advice to Jordan’s Democratic opponent is to ignore this exploding child molestation scandal? To beat him but not to use the mounting evidence that he ignored complaints from his own team that they were being groped? That the most effective way to run against Jordan is to, what, talk about taxes? I hope Janet Garret has more sense than that.

    Normally you just trot out this kind of nonsense when it involves Trump. But you seem to have taken on Jordan as kind of a special case.

  32. teve tory says:

    (a fifth wrestler has come forward saying he was in the room with Jordan when players were complaining about being groped)

    Yeah I just saw that. Jordan should resign.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory: I would much rather have Janet Garrett beat him than have him reason and get replaced by a Republican that has a better chance.

  34. Blue Galangal says:

    @MarkedMan: I concur, and I’m not sure why Pearce is so worried about Jordan’s reputation in this instance. But it seems clear that as a staff member at OSU, he actually has broken a law (or two) by not reporting this (even if it was suspected, he was not required to verify it, but he was required to report it) – Title IX and the Clery Act. I work at a public university in Ohio and I am a mandated reporter.

    “…several classifications of employees have been identified as “mandatory reporters” for Title IX purposes. These employees have authority and responsibility to take action to remedy harassment. Examples of mandatory reporters include:

    Vice presidents, vice chancellors, vice provosts, deans, department heads, directors and coaches
    Employees in supervisory or management roles
    Faculty members
    Student affairs professionals
    Residential life staff.”

    Further:

    What are your primary responsibilities as a mandatory reporter?
    The main responsibility of mandatory reporters is to report any Title IX violations to the University as soon as possible. You are required to report incidents you personally observe as well as incidents reported to you. You must report these offenses to the designated office on campus.

    Additionally, all mandatory reporters are required to report instances of suspected child abuse in accordance with the Ohio law.

    Please see the Report Relevant Offenses section for details on what qualifies as a violation and the Take Action section for details on how to report.

    What additional responsibilities might you have as a mandatory reporter?
    Many mandatory reporters under Title IX are also considered Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) under the Clery Act. As such, you may be required to file reports of certain crimes, including sexual assault and child abuse/neglect, according to procedures outlined by the Clery Act.

    If you are also a CSA, please refer to the Clery Act Compliance Guide for CSAs for more information about your responsibilities, offenses that should be reported and how to take action in compliance with the Clery Act.

  35. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So your advice to Jordan’s Democratic opponent is to ignore this exploding child molestation scandal?

    Yes.

    Jim Jordan did not molest anyone. Falsely connecting him to a child molestation scandal might result in some kind of political advantage –especially considering how tribal things have gotten– but there’s also a good chance, considering Jim Jordan did not molest anyone, that it won’t.

    At any rate, I think it’s telling that there’s more confidence in false accusations against Republicans than there is in arguing for the superiority of Democratic policies. What does it say? Nothing good.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Two things, just for the record.

    First, Jordan is not being falsely connected to a child molestation scandal. He is being legitimately connected to one. It seems that in your mind “As a coach I never molested anyone but only knew about it and didn’t report it and anyway the statute of limitations is past” is exoneration. (BTW, just what the hell is wrong with you?!) I doubt it will be so for voters in his district.

    And that brings up the second thing. I realize that Janet Garrett does not have much of a chance against someone like Jordan, with his billionaire friends and the blind support of the crazy wing of the Republican Party. She was just a party activist who more or less volunteered despite knowing she was going to end up a pea beneath the Wingnut Steam Roller. But nonetheless, I’m very glad she’s not getting advice from the likes of you.

  37. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It seems that in your mind “As a coach I never molested anyone but only knew about it and didn’t report it and anyway the statute of limitations is past” is exoneration.

    I think it’s very plausible that he didn’t know about it, or that he was told but didn’t believe it or didn’t even understand what was happening. I also do not feel comfortable condemning the man for a bunch of woulda-coulda-shouldas.

  38. MarkedMan says:

    Wow. You just revealed something about your character.

    And you believe him over the five kids that say differently because why, exactly? Or is it just that anyone would struggle with whether or not they should report the sexual abuse of minors by the team physician?

  39. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And you believe him over the five kids that say differently because why, exactly?

    Because those five kids have no clue what’s going on in Jordan’s brain. They don’t know what he’s seen, what he knows, how his tiny little brain processed any of this stuff.

    The wrestlers think he should have known, that he should have done more, and maybe he should have, but he’s a jackass, not a superhero.

    Have you really never had anyone in your life that just doesn’t get it despite your best efforts?

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: So the kids who say they discussed it with him must have just imagined those conversations? And they must of imagined it because this guy who lies all the time says they are mistaken?

  41. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So the kids who say they discussed it with him must have just imagined those conversations?

    No, but I imagine that was a difficult conversation and may have been more vague and euphemism-y than you’d like to think and maybe, just maybe a part of Jim Jordan shut down. His brain went, “I don’t want to hear this.” And he didn’t.

    You don’t have to think he was a great administrator or coach or congressman to think the accusations that he covered up sexual abuse are a bit overblown.

  42. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    He had a legal duty to report. It doesn’t matter if ‘part of Jim Jordan shut down’, that doesn’t excuse not reporting abuse reported to him. At least five former wrestlers have come forward and said they reported abuse to him. He did not follow his legal duty to report it. It doesn’t matter if he didn’t want to believe it. That is why the duty to report is a law, because too many people find it easier to sweep things under the rug because it makes them uncomfortable. That is not a reasonable excuse and I’m relatively certain that if it was someone you cared about that reported abuse to him and he failed in his legal duty to report it you wouldn’t be near so sanguine.
    Jesus man, are you entirely constitutionally incapable of admitting you were wrong?