Responding to accusations from former student athletes that he ignored allegations of rampant sexual abuse by a team doctor at Ohio State University, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ind., affirmed Friday evening his insistence that the accusations are “false.”
“I never saw, never heard of, I never was told about any type of abuse,” Jordan said in a live interview with the Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier.
“If I had been, I would have dealt with it. Our coaching staff – we would have dealt with it – these were our student athletes,” said Jordan, who served as an assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1987 to 1995.
“A good coach puts the interest of student athletes first. We would have dealt with it if we had known about anything that happened.”
NBC News reported this week that some alleged victims of team doctor Richard Strauss claimed they talked with Jordan about the abuse when the congressman was a coach. Five former wrestlers, including former UFC world champion Mark Coleman, now have claimed that Jordan was aware of the allegations but didn’t respond to them, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Jordan said that if it turns out that there are victims, “we want the investigation to get to the truth.”
“That’s what we need here, is the truth,” said the Indiana congressman, a rising figure in the House who is regarded as a candidate for the House speaker position after Paul Ryan retires this fall.
Law.com noted the number of alleged victims – more than 1,500 across at least 15 varsity sports at Ohio State– threatens to dwarf the historic $500 million case recently settled at Big Ten counterpart Michigan State, where more than 300 victims filed suit in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Ohio State said investigators have received “confidential reports of sexual misconduct committed by Strauss” from former athletes and from former patients in Student Health Services, NBC reported.
Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, worked as the university from 1978 to 1998.
Jordan was a four-time state wrestling champion in high school in Ohio and won two NCAA titles, in 1985 and 1986, for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He twice defeated future two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith in an NCAA tournament in 1985.
President Trump said Thursday, “I believe Jim 100 percent.”
Jordan is a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives working to “support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.”
Where are these guys coming from?
In the interview Friday, Baier asked Jordan to respond to his chief accuser, former Ohio State wrestler Mike DiSabato, who asserted this week that Jordan knew about the “deviant sexual atmosphere that we were exposed to,” claiming the abuse was discussed on a regular basis in “locker room banter.”
Now there are five accusers, Baier pointed out, with Politico reporting six.
“Where are these guys coming from?” the Fox News host asked.
“Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse or reporting abuse to us,” Jordan replied, noting he’s been around the sport of wrestling his whole life and many family members are currently involved.
“No one every reported any abuse to me,” he maintained. “If they had, I would have dealt with it.”
Jordan said that what bothers him the most is “the guys who are saying this thing, I know they know the truth.”
“I know they know what they’re saying is not accurate,” the congressman said.
“So, what do you think is their motivation?” Baier asked.
“You would have to ask them,” Jordan replied.
But he quickly added that DiSabato “has a vendetta against Ohio State,” pointing out DiSabato lost a licensing agreement with the university, was caught “bilking” a fund for a slain Marine and was arrested five months ago for threatening the lawyer of Chris Spielman, the former football star who is suing OSU over the marketing of his name. Another accuser, Dunyasha Yetts, is a convicted criminal who spent 18 months in prison, Jordan noted.
Baier again pointed out there are other accusers, including Coleman, who said in an interview he has an affinity for Jordan but that there is no way Jordan could not recall any knowledge of the abuse unless he has dementia.
“I feel sorry for Mark Coleman,” Jordan said, adding that Coleman was a national champion at OSU and later became an assistant coach. “It’s just not accurate.”
Another accuser, Shawn Dailey, said he participated with Jordan in locker-room talk about Strauss, insisting it was common knowledge that anyone who went to the doctor for any issue would have to pull down his pants.
Dailey claimed he remembers Jordan saying that if Strauss tried to do that for a thumb injury, he would kill him.
“Not true. Did not say it,” Jordan replied.
Baier continued: “But let me ask you, congressman, you’ve got these guys who are saying this on the record – somebody reading from the outside, what do you say to them? What is driving these guys to say this now?”
“You’d have to ask them,” Jordan responded. “I think the timing is suspect, when you think about how this whole story came together after the (Deputy Attorney General Rod) Rosenstein hearing, with this whole talk about the speaker’s race, but it is just not accurate.”
Baier pressed further, asking Jordan if in the locker room he heard of any accusation “short of abuse that may be considered abuse now in this current time.”
“Did not,” Jordan replied. “Did not.”
Baier pointed out many people who worked with Jordan at Ohio State at the time have come to his defense.
See the interview:
Capitol Police reviewing DiSabato emails
FoxNews.com reported Thursday that U.S. Capitol Police were reviewing what Jordan described as strange emails he received from DiSabato.
Jordan said that one sent in the predawn hours of July 4 was “the last straw” for him. DiSabato told CNN the notion that Jordan was being bullied was “somewhat laughable.” Fox News said Jordan has been receiving emails from the accuser since March and had previously forwarded such messages to his chief of staff and attorney.
A spokesman for Jordan, Ian Fury, told Fox News earlier this week the congressman
“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.”
Fury also denied claims that Jordan’s office received a request for an interview from Perkins Coie, the Seattle-based law firm investigating the abuse allegations. The firm also was the liaison between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Fusion GPS, the political-research company that commissioned the unverified dossier at the heart of the Trump-Russia collusion allegations.
In his interview Friday with Fox News, Jordan said Perkins Coie sent its request to a non-existent email address.
“The same law firm that can find an ex-British spy to go after President Trump, can’t find a congressman’s email address? Can’t find get a hold of me? And then they tell the press, ‘We reached out to him and he didn’t respond,'” Jordan said.
“That is just complete bogus.”
Jordan said that since then, the firm has been in contact, “and we’re going to sit down with them.”
“We want to get to the truth,” the congressman said. “If there were people who were abused, they deserve justice. But what has been said about me is completely false.”