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Sports Illustrated: Jim Jordan House Speaker Candidacy Roils Ohio State Wrestling Community

Mod: The mainstream sports magazine Sports Illustrated weighs in on enabler Gym Jordan.

Jim Jordan House Speaker Candidacy Roils Ohio State Wrestling Community (Sports Illustrated link): They came from the cities and from small towns. They spanned generations and races and body types. Some looked like they could still make weight; others not so much. It was the summer of 2021, and around 30 former Ohio State wrestlers quietly converged on a high school outside Columbus for a meeting. Others joined virtually.

It had the look of a team reunion, but the mood was considerably more somber. This was akin to a family intervention, a revival meeting to attempt to repair the program’s ripped fabric.

It had been three years since one of the wrestlers, Mike DiSabato, had come forward with accounts that when he wrestled for OSU in the late ’80s and ’90s, the team doctor, Richard Strauss, had sexually assaulted him. He was, effectively, the whistleblower in what would be shorthanded “The Strauss Scandal.” It would metastasize, and soon hundreds of other former OSU athletes—disproportionately wrestlers—shared their experiences of being groomed, assaulted and in some cases raped by the serial predator who was also the team doctor.

The trauma was compounded by a sense of betrayal. Wrestler after wrestler recalled complaining about Strauss to the head coach, Russ Hellickson, and to Jim Jordan, a onetime wrestling star in Wisconsin who served as OSU’s assistant coach from 1986 to ‘94.

In all, at least 11 former wrestlers—as well as a wrestling referee—have said the OSU coaches knew and chose to do nothing. Strauss would continue to go unchecked until the mid ’90s, assaulting athletes without consequence. Nick Nutter, an All-American OSU wrestler in the ’90s and a Strauss survivor, recounted to me in 2020, as I was reporting this story, that he and his teammates made a calculus before deciding whether to see the team doctor. “Is this injury bad enough that I’m willing to get molested for it?”

Even as Ohio State began settling lawsuits brought by survivors of Strauss in 2020, Hellickson and Jordan continued to deny they ever knew there was abuse. By this time Jordan was a Republican member of Congress representing Ohio’s Fourth District, an ascending political star rising in status and power. Jordan predictably, was asked about the allegations leveled by so many of the athletes he once coached. He was defiant, referring inquiries to a statement issued by his communications director: “Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had he would have dealt with it.”Jordan did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Now, Jordan is in prime position to rise to the position of speaker of the House, third in line for the presidency. On Friday, Republicans chose him as their nominee for the position in an internal vote, though he still must win election on the floor of the full House. Jordan’s potential ascendancy has resurfaced questions about his role in the Strauss scandal and whether he is fit to lead the House of Representatives

His candidacy, up and down as it has been, has troubled a number of his former wrestlers—many are in close contact, and calls quickly rocketed around their orbit. A half dozen communicated with Sports Illustrated for this story. It is worth, if nothing else, understanding Jordan’s role in the scandal, exactly what the claims against him are and how he has responded.

Mod: Much more at the link.

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