fb-pixelJim Jordan speaker bid resurfaces allegations of ignored abuse Skip to main content

Representative Jim Jordan’s run for House speaker resurfaces allegations he ignored abuse

Representative Jim Jordan is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

US Representative Jim Jordan will reportedly seek a third vote to become House speaker Friday after failing to win in the first two rounds of balloting. According to Russell Dye, Jordan’s spokesman, a floor vote is planned for 10 a.m., and Jordan is scheduled to hold a press conference at 8 a.m.

Jordan, an Ohio Republican, is known on the national stage for his hard-right stances on immigration and tax policy and a deep loyalty to former president Donald Trump, who has endorsed him for speaker. Jordan’s attempt to become House speaker has also resurfaced allegations that he ignored the sexual abuse of student athletes at Ohio State University when he worked there 30 years ago.

Advertisement



Jordan, who worked as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, has long denied any knowledge of alleged abuse at the university. A spokesperson for Jordan said in 2018 that the congressman was unaware of any allegations while he was a coach there and had not been contacted by investigators at that time.

“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,” Ian Fury, a Jordan spokesperson, said in July 2018. “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.”

Some officials at Ohio State were aware of allegations of sexual abuse against Dr. Richard Strauss, who worked in the university’s athletics department, at least as early as 1979, but the university failed to take any action to stop him until 1996, according to a 182-page report from an independent investigation commissioned by the university that was completed in 2019.

Advertisement



Strauss died by suicide in 2005 after voluntarily retiring from the university in 1998, the report said.

The former site of what housed an off-campus clinic run by Dr. Richard Strauss, a now-dead Ohio State team doctor.John Minchillo/Associated Press

Jordan, who was a two-time NCAA champion wrestler as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, worked as Ohio State’s assistant wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994, overlapping with Strauss’ time there, according to the Washington Post.

Investigators found that “Strauss sexually abused at least 177 male student-patients he was charged with treating as a University physician,” according to the report. But, aside from complaints reported to the head coach of the fencing team, investigators “did not identify any other contemporaneous documentary evidence indicating that members of the OSU coaching staff, including head coaches or assistant coaches, received or were aware of complaints regarding Strauss sexual misconduct,” according to the report.

A spokesperson for Jordan confirmed to the New York Times in 2019 that he had been interviewed by investigators, but Jordan is not mentioned by name in the report.

After the report was released, Jordan declared that it had vindicated him, the Times reported.

“It confirms everything I said,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to the Times. “If we’d have known about it, we’d have reported it. It confirms everything I’ve said before. I didn’t know about anything. If I would’ve, I’d have done something.”

Ohio State announced the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Strauss in a statement in April 2018, about three and a half months before Jordan launched an eventually unsuccessful bid to become speaker of the House. The probe was initiated after a former wrestler, Mike DiSabato, accused Strauss of abuse and identified Jordan as a witness who had ignored Strauss’ misconduct, the Times reported.

Advertisement



In the wake of the investigation, former OSU student-athletes continued to say that Jordan had been aware of the abuse, the Times reported.

Dunyasha Yetts, an OSU wrestler in 1992 and 1993, told the Times that he had complained to Jordan and the wrestling team’s head coach after Strauss groped his genitals during an examination, and that the coaches had then confronted Strauss, who insisted he was “just being thorough.”

In a later instance, Yetts told the Times, Jordan was present when Yetts entered the locker room complaining that Strauss tried to pull down his wrestling shorts during an exam for a thumb injury.

“He just kind of blew it off, he was like, ‘Are you serious?’” Yetts said in an interview with the Times. “He said, ‘I would kill him if he tried to do that to me,’ and walked away.”

An Ohio State wrestler matched up with a Cornell wrestler in 2019. Jim Jordan served as an assistant coach at Ohio State for nearly a decade before he embarked on a political career.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

On Oct. 10, four former Ohio State wrestlers, including Yetts, told NBC News that Jordan lacks integrity and should not be given more power.

“He doesn’t deserve to be House speaker,” Yetts said. “He still has to answer for what happened to us.”

Advertisement



Yetts said Jordan’s “hypocrisy is unbelievable.”

Mike Schyck, another former OSU wrestler interviewed by NBC News, asked, “Do you really want a guy in that job who chose not to stand up for his guys?”

“His locker was just a few spots away from mine, and mine was near Dr. Strauss,’” Schyck told the network. “And we were always talking about Dr. Strauss. There’s no way he didn’t know what was going on.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him @jeremycfox.