Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio could be the next speaker of the House following McCarthy’s ouster.
Questions are resurfacing about his role in the sexual abuse scandal at Ohio State University.
Here’s what we know about the scandal and Jordan’s alleged role in it.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio could become the next speaker of the House, and questions are resurfacing about his role in a sexual abuse scandal at Ohio State University.
Former wrestlers have accused Jordan of turning a blind eye towards sexual abuse while working as an assistant wrestling coach at the university in the 1980s and 90s, and several of them recently reiterated those allegations in the wake of his speakership bid.
“He doesn’t deserve to be House speaker,” one former wrestler told NBC News last week. “He still has to answer for what happened to us.”
Jordan has long denied any wrongdoing since the allegations were first brought forward in 2018, and at no point has any former wrestler accused Jordan himself of commiting sexual abuse.
The scandal has hardly been mentioned in the weeks-long squabbling over who will succeed the recently-deposed Kevin McCarthy. Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, a Jordan supporter, recently said she didn’t know anything about the issue.
But the allegations have stuck with Jordan through the years, earning him the moniker “Gym Jordan” from detractors.
Here’s all that we know about the scandal — and Jordan’s alleged role in it.
Jordan worked as a wrestling coach at Ohio State
A high school and college wrestling champion himself, Jordan worked as an assistant coach at Ohio State University in Columbus from 1986 to 1994 immediately after graduating college. He worked there for eight years, earning a master’s degree in education and a law degree during that period.
In 1994, he was elected to the Ohio General Assembly, and his time as an assistant coach came to an end. He was later elected to Congress in 2006.
A physician sexually abused members of the wrestling team while Jordan worked at the school
In April 2018, the university launched an investigation into Dr. Richard Strauss, a university physician, after former college wrestler Mike DiSabato accused him of sexual misconduct.
That investigation found in 2019 that Strauss had sexually abused at least 177 male students — 48 of which were on the wrestling team — while working at the school from 1978 to 1998. Those instances of abuse ranged from probing questions about students’ sexual practices to overt fondling.
That same investigation found that university staff “had knowledge of Strauss’ sexually abusive treatment of male student-patients as early as 1979.” The university had conducted a limited investigation into Strauss’ conduct in 1996, and he later voluntarily retired in 1998.
Strauss died by suicide in 2005.
Jordan was accused of turning a blind eye
In July 2018, several former wrestlers at the school came forward and accused Jordan of failing to stop the abuse, arguing that he was well aware of what was happening.
“He is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on,” DiSabato told NBC News at the time, saying that Jordan told him to “please leave me out of it” when he informed the Ohio congressman that he would be coming forward with his allegations.
“For God’s sake, Strauss’s locker was right next to Jordan’s and Jordan even said he’d kill him if he tried anything with him,” another wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, told the outlet, saying he had directly informed Jordan of an instance of abuse.
The Ohio congressman denied any knowledge of the incident the following day, saying he “knew of no abuse” and “if we had, we’d have reported it.”
Jordan, at that point still a member of the House Freedom Caucus, also said that “it’s interesting that the timing is what it is in light of things that are going on in Washington,” given that he was seen as a potential contender for House speaker.
Some ex-wrestlers came forward to defend Jordan in the following days, with some saying that even they were not aware of Strauss’s behavior.
Then-Speaker Paul Ryan defended Jordan, calling him a “friend of mine” who’s a “man of honesty and a man of integrity.”
Jordan was accused of pressuring witnesses
During 2020 testimony before Ohio state legislators, Adam DiSabato — the brother of the first wrestler who came forward — said that Jordan had begged him to contradict his brother’s claims.
“Jim Jordan called me crying, crying. Groveling. On the 4th of July, begging me to go against my brother,” DiSabato said at the time. “Begging me. Crying for a half hour. That’s the kind of cover-ups that’s going on there.”
Another former OSU wrestler, Rick Burlenski, told CNN in 2020 that Jordan called him to thank him after he told POLITICO that he “never had an issue” with the doctor
“He’s always been an upstanding and straightforward guy,” Burlenski said of Jordan. “If there was an issue, I would have thought those guys would have handled it.”
The issue receded into the background
Since the investigation, Ohio State University has paid out $60 million to victims of the abuse, though the university faces further lawsuits from former students who’ve alleged a cover-up.
Over time, the issue has faded into the background on Capitol. Since DiSabato’s 2020 testimony, Jordan has engaged in other controversial ventures, including participating closely in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
And several Republican lawmakers, asked about the scandal last week, evinced general disinterest.
“Hasn’t this already been dealt with?” Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida told Roll Call. “What I’m going to do right now is find a speaker of the House. I’m not getting into stuff like that from years ago.”
There is a chance, however, that Jordan will be deposed as part of an ongoing lawsuit related to the sexual abuse scandal.
If that were to occur, it would be the first time that Jordan is required to answer question about the scandal — and his alleged knowledge of it — while under oath.
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