Columbus, Ohio–In April, Ohio State University announced that an investigation had been launched into allegations of sexual misconduct by former wrestling team physician Dr. Richard Strauss.
The allegations were brought to the school’s attention by former student and wrestling team member, Mike DiSabato.
Strauss who committed suicide in 2005, was employed at Ohio State, according to public records published on the school’s website, from 1978 until he retired in 1998.
Given the nature of the investigation and the seriousness of the allegations, the University reached out to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, who appointed Porter Wright to be the Universities outside legal counsel, Wright in turn engaged Perkins Coie LLP to conduct an independent investigation.
As of June’s update, via a letter provided to the school by Kathleen Trafford on behalf of Porter Wrights office, Perkins Coie had conducted or scheduled over one-hundred-thirty interviews. According to the letter, most of the individuals reporting allegations of sexual misconduct are former students athletes “who were examined or treated,” by Strauss. The student athletes participated in a variety of men’s athletic programs, “wrestling, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball, lacrosse, gymnastics, ice hockey, football, fencing, soccer, baseball, tennis, track and cross country.”
Other students not athletes have also reported abuse, while Strauss worked part-time as a physician at Student Health Services and in August 1996, Strauss established a private medical office, where additional acts of sexual misconduct are said to have occurred.
The investigation garnered national attention on Tuesday, when NBC News reported that Rep Jim Jordan, (R-OH), “is being accused by former wrestlers he coached more than two decades ago at Ohio State University of failing to stop the team doctor from molesting them and other students.”
Jordan worked for Ohio State as an assistant wrestling coach from 1986-1994 and in April he told The Columbus Dispatch “I had not heard about any type of abuse at all,” he said, adding that “no one reported any type of abuse” to him.
Three former wrestlers told NBC News, that it was impossible that Jordan was unaware of the actions of Strauss stating that it was common knowledge that Strauss regularly showered with the students and “inappropriately touched them during appointments.” One wrestler claims he told Jordan at the time about the abuse directly.
Russ Hllickson, former head coach of the wrestling team, who was interviewed by DiSabato on video, that video handed over to Ohio State, explained, he told Strauss that he was being too “hands on with the students.”
DiSabato, who was the first to come forward told NBC News that while he considers Jim Jordan a friend, “at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
Dunyasha Yetts, who was on the wrestling team at Ohio State in 1993 and 1994, told NBC News, 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. I’m like, what the f— 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.”
Yetts who admitted to NBC that he did time for “bilking investors,” out of almost $2 million dollars served eighteen months in prison said he thought Jordan was a great guy and told the wrestlers how one day “he’d be president.” Yetts added, “So it’s sad for me to hear that he’s denying knowing about Strauss. I don’t know why he would, unless it’s a cover-up. Either you’re in on it, or you’re a liar.”
NBC News reached out to Jordan, his spokesmen Ian Fury said in an email, “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.”
NBC notes that after Tuesday’s article was published, the Congressmen’s spokesmen Fury, added, “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.”
Kathleen Trafford, of Porter Wright’s office, told NBC News, that they had contacted Jordan’s office by “email and phone,” to request that he participate in an interview, “To date, Rep. Jordan has not responded to those requests. The investigative team is continuing its efforts to schedule an interview with Rep. Jordan.”
On Wednesday Jordan told reporters that while he knew Strauss, he still denies having any knowledge of abuse, “those things being said about me are just not true.”