[CW: The following article describes multiple incidents of on-campus sexual assaults by a medical professional.]
On Thursday a lawsuit was launched against Ohio State University by 43 individuals who claimed they were sexually abused by Dr. Richard Strauss; a former OSU wrestling team physician. In that lawsuit a wrestling referee alleges that they told U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) about abuse suffered by Strauss and that the congressman shrugged off the allegation.
The referee, named as John Doe 42 in court papers, said that he appealed to Jordan in 1994 immediately after Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match. Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson are accused of saying, “Yeah, that’s Strauss” and “Yeah, yeah, we know” in response to the referee.
According to NBC News independent investigators reported that Strauss sexually abused 177 male students at the university during the 1980s and 90s. Cleveland.com reported that Strauss is believed to have fondled more 1,400 people and raped at least 47 people during his time working as a team doctor for various OSU sports teams and working at an off-campus health clinic. Strauss died by suicide in 2005 before he could be prosecuted.
Jordan has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of Strauss’ crimes while he was an OSU coach between 1987 and 1995. John Doe 42 spoke to NBC News about Jordan, stating: “It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing, so the attitude was it is what it is. I wish [Jordan], and [Hellickson], too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”
Former OSU wrestlers Mike DiSabato and Dunyasha Yetts have both said that they reported Strauss to Jordan. DiSabato has said that Strauss groped him during routine medical visits. Yetts, who said Strauss groped him at least three times, said he spoke to Jordan after he went to Strauss with a thumb injury and stormed out of the doctor’s office after Strauss tried to pull down his pants.
Yetts told the Associated Press he frequently spoke to Jordan about Strauss and that, “[Jordan would] even make comments, ‘This guy better not touch me.’” DiSabato told AP that Jordan had ‘direct knowledge’ of the Strauss allegations.
Former OSU wrestler Shawn Dailey has also claimed that Jordan took part in conversations where Strauss’ abuse of wrestlers came up. He told NBC News that he was groped multiple times by Strauss, but was too embarrassed to report the abuse directly to Jordan.
UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman has also said he was groped by Strauss at OSU. Coleman initially told The Wall Street Journal that Jordan knew about the abuse. “There’s no way, unless he’s got dementia or something, that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State. I have nothing but respect for this man. I love this man. But he knew as far as I’m concerned,” said Coleman.
Coleman then walked back his statement in an interview with CNN. “Maybe I spoke without thinking,” he said. “This has absorbed my life. Since I’ve said that, it’s consumed me 24 hours a day, and I didn’t like the way it was heading, the direction it was heading.”
“I was angry and said words that I shouldn’t have said,” continued Coleman. “He may have known about some locker room banter because we did joke about it in the locker room, but I don’t know of anyone ever reporting it to Jim Jordan directly.”
Jordan, a top defender of U.S. President Donald Trump, was recently assigned to the House Intelligence Committee by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Jordan replaces Rick Crawford (R-AK) who, according to CNBC, has been critical of Trump and is retiring at the end of his term.
The House Intelligence Committee, lead by Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff, is leading the public impeachment inquiry that is concerned with determining whether Trump’s reported urging of the Ukraine to investigate his political opponents is grounds for his removal from office.
Survivors of sexual assault in the US can find support via the following organizations:
US – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)’s National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). RAINN also has an online chat service.
Love is Respect, 1-866-331-9474. They can also be reached via online chat or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.
End Rape on Campus (EROC), 1-424-777-EROC (3762).
Canada – Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, 1-877-232-2610.
UK and Ireland – UK Says No More.
Rest of the World – International Rapes Crisis Hotlines.
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