Rep. Jim Jordan is facing accusations of ignoring sexual abuse while he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
Former university wrestlers alleged the Ohio Republican failed the stop the abuse at the hands of team doctor Dr. Richard Strauss, according to an NBC News report.
Jordan has denied knowing about the abuse.
Allegations from former wrestler Mike DiSabato prompted an investigation by the university into Strauss, who died in 2005.
DiSabato said Jordan was a “liar” for saying he did not know about abuse and said the congressman asked him to “please leave me out of it” when DiSabato told him he wanted to go public with his allegations last year.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” he said. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
Similarly, another former wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, said he reported sexual abuse to Jordan and former Ohio State head coach Russ Hellickson.
“I remember I had a thumb injury and went into Strauss’ office and he started pulling down my wrestling shorts,” Yetts said. “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 also said Jordan was told about Strauss in the past.
“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,” he said.
Another teammate who was not identified said he never told Jordan about the abuse, but said the congressman had to have known about Strauss.
“I love Jimmy to death,” he said. “It was a head-scratcher to me why he would say he didn’t know anything. Doc used to take showers with the team even though he didn’t do any workouts, and everybody used to snicker about how you go into his office for a sore shoulder and he tells you to take your pants down.”
Jordan told The Columbus Dispatch earlier this year when the allegations first surfaced that “no one reported any type of abuse” to him when he was assistant coach from 1986 to 1994.
Jordan’s colleagues in the House expressed concern over the allegations — but were cautious not to jump to conclusions.
“These are serious allegations and issues,” Doug Andres, a spokesman for Speaker Paul D. Ryan, said in a statement. “The university has rightfully initiated a full investigation into the matter. The speaker will await the findings of that inquiry.”
Leading Democrats in the #MeToo movement echoed the speaker.
“From Hollywood studios to the wrestling mat at a college, the MeToo era has ushered in a new awareness that sexual harassment and abuse will not be tolerated,” Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida said in a statement. “These are serious allegations that warrant investigation.”
Janet Garrett, who is Jordan’s Democratic opponent in Ohio’s 4th District, said the incumbent had an obligation to “cooperate fully with the investigation.”
“Any allegation of sexual abuse against minors — or complicity regarding such abuse — is very serious,” she said in a statement. “That damage cannot be undone. For any teacher, protecting kids is the absolute first priority — and I say that as a former kindergarten teacher.”
Watch: Jim Jordan and Rod Rosenstein’s Fiery Exchange