A seventh former Ohio State University wrestler said Saturday that he believes Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, knew about inappropriate behavior that allegedly took place in the school’s athletic department three decades ago, as two more former team members came to Jordan’s defense.
David Range, who wrestled for Ohio State in the late 1980s, said Jordan had to have known about alleged sexual misconduct by Richard Strauss, an athletic doctor whose behavior is under investigation by the school, because it happened regularly to team members and people talked about it. Jordan has denied he knew, saw or heard about any inappropriate behavior while he was an assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995.
“Jordan definitely knew that these things were happening — yes, most definitely,” Range told the Washington Post. “It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence.”
Range said he never discussed the issue directly with Jordan one on one and did not know whether anyone made a formal report, but he said Jordan was present during group conversations in the locker room about Strauss’ behavior.
“We talked about it all the time in the locker room” while Jordan was there, he said. “Everybody joked about it and talked about it all the time.”
Range said Strauss, who has been accused of abusing athletes in more than a dozen sports during his time as an athletic doctor, touched wrestlers inappropriately during examinations and ogled them in the locker room showers.
Jordan has been under scrutiny since July 3, when NBC News quoted three former wrestlers as saying he knew or must have known about inappropriate behavior in the athletic department. Three others have said the same in news accounts since then.
The reports come at a delicate time for Jordan, who has been under pressure from conservative political organizations to mount a bid to replace Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who will not run for re-election.
Several members of the Ohio State wrestling program who attended the school while Jordan was a coach there have defended the congressman, saying they believe his denials that he didn’t know about the alleged abuse.
Two former wrestlers told the Post on Saturday they believe Jordan, who charged one accuser on Friday with having a “vendetta” against Ohio State and his family. Asked for comment for this story, a spokesman for Jordan referred the Post to his interview with Fox News on Friday night.
“Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse,” Jordan told Fox. Asked later whether he heard wrestlers talking about misconduct that fell short of the common definition of sexual abuse at the time but could be considered abuse today, Jordan issued a flat denial, saying he “did not, did not” hear anything.