A former captain of the Ohio State wrestling team told Ohio state lawmakers in a public hearing on Tuesday that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) pleaded with him in 2018 to deny sexual abuse allegations of male wrestlers by a team doctor that was widely known within the program but was ignored, reports NBC News.
Adam DiSabato, who was a member of the Ohio State wrestling program in the late ’80s to early ’90s, made the bombshell allegation amid a public hearing on legislation that would allow victims of former athletic department doctor Richard Strauss to waive the statute of limitations and sue the university for damages.
An investigation found that Strauss abused at least 177 young men at the school’s facilities between 1979 and 1998.
Adam DiSabato is the brother of fellow OSU wrestling alumni Michael DiSabato, who helped spur the investigation into the late Dr. Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005.
DiSabato said during the House Civil Justice Committee hearing that Jordan, an assistant wrestling coach from 1986-1994, knew about the sexual harassment and abuse that was taking place. Many wrestlers and even referees claim Jordan knew or was told of the abuse, but didn’t speak out.
He also claimed that the GOP congressman repeatedly called him in July 2018 after his brother told press outlets that Strauss’s abuse was common knowledge.
“Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for a half-hour,” he said, according to video of the hearing. “That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on there.”
Jordan, he said, called him repeatedly that week. “I had to have my lawyer call him to tell him to stop calling me,” he said.
He told the committee that he also asked a former teammate named George Pardos to tell Jordan to stop calling him.
“Call Jim Jordan and tell him to quit calling me or I’m going to beat his ass,” Adam DiSabato said he told Pardos. “That’s what I said.”
Adam DiSabato told the committee that Jordan and former head coach Russ Hellickson also pressured other athletes to “flip their story,” including another former wrestler named Mark Coleman.
“He called his [Coleman’s] parents, 90 years old,” Adam DiSabato said. “That’s the kind of person Jim Jordan is. Jim Jordan, if I ever see him, he better not come around me.”
Jordan, a powerful Republican and a top defender of President Donald Trump, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the abuse.
Ian Fury, a spokesman for Jordan’s office, told Cleveland.com that the new testimony was “another lie.”
During the hearing, DiSabato called Jordan a “liar” and accused him of throwing wrestlers he once coached “under the bus.”
“He’s a coward,” he said. “He’s not a leader. He’s a coward. I was captain of these guys. That’s why I’m here. I would never abandon my team. He abandoned us.”
Strauss has been accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of athletes across 15 varsity sports. More than 350 men have reportedly sued the university over the abuse.
A lawsuit filed last November claims that Rep. Jordan was told directly about misconduct from Strauss. An unnamed referee, 42, claimed that Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson said, “yeah, that’s Strauss,” after being told that the doctor masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match.
“The idea I’m not going to defend our athletes when I think they’re being harmed is ridiculous,” Jordan said after the suit was filed. “This is just — this is someone making a false statement.”