Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan is one of the leaders of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and a vocal supporter of President Trump. Along with Congressman Matt Gaetz, Jordan is one of the most prevalent faces on cable news, usually pushing the latest GOP conspiracy theory to undermine the Mueller investigation. He’s also in the running to take over as Speaker of the House once Ryan exits (and if the GOP maintains control).
But before turning to politics, Joran was the assistant coach of Ohio State University’s wrestling team for eight years, from 1986 to 1994. It’s that period of his life that’s recently come under scrutiny as a several of the men he coached have come forward saying they were sexually abused while on the team and Jordan knew of the abuse and did nothing about it.
A new Politico report cites a “half-dozen” wrestlers who claimed they were routinely the targets of sexual abuse during Jordan’s tenure as assistant coach.
“A half-dozen ex-wrestlers told POLITICO they were regularly harassed in their training facility by sexually aggressive men who attended the university or worked there. The voyeurs would masturbate while watching the wrestlers shower or sit in the sauna, or engage in sexual acts in the areas where the athletes trained, the former wrestlers said.
Larkins Hall, the building that housed athletic teams, became such a well-known target that people who frequented it at the time have reminisced in anonymous postings online how easy it was to ogle naked members of the wrestling team.”
The abuse allegations center around the team’s doctor, Richard Strauss, who’s accused of inappropriately groping the men and showering with them regularly and killed himself in 2005. One of the wrestlers speculated that Strauss, who worked as the team’s doctor for 20 years, may have molested as many as 2,000 students during his tenure.
Although Jordan himself hasn’t been accused and denies knowing anything about the abuse, the wrestlers are calling bullsh*t.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 6, 2018
One of the wrestlers knocking down Jordan’s defense is former UFC world champion Mark Coleman who told the Wall Street Journal “There’s no way, unless he’s got dementia or something, that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State.” Another claims he saw Jordan shouting at one of the men who was in the sauna leering at the students to get out.
According to NBC News,
“Three former wrestlers told NBC News that it was common knowledge that Strauss showered regularly with the students and inappropriately touched them during appointments, and said it would have been impossible for Jordan to be unaware; one wrestler said he told Jordan directly about the abuse.”
But Jordan—echoing Trump’s defense of the infamous Access Hollywood tape—Jordan claims these amounted to “locker room conversations.”
Jim Jordan changes his story, seems to acknowledge that he was aware that the team doctor was molesting wrestlers at Ohio State
"Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse." pic.twitter.com/QsSlwM4piU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 6, 2018
Whatever “locker room” Jim Jordan and Donald Trump are hanging out in needs to be fucking investigated. https://t.co/jgcIFy5M05
— Sarada Peri (@SaradaPeri) July 6, 2018
Indeed, Jordan’s taken to even Trumpier defenses of himself, questioning the timing of the accusations now that he’s seeking the speaker’s gavel while implying the “deep state” or other unnamed political actors have a “vendetta” against him.
Rep. Jim Jordan attacks accuser as liar and criminal with vendetta against Ohio state and Jordan's family. pic.twitter.com/TnKNo0OLMV
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 6, 2018
We all laugh about it – and we should – but a non-insignificant segment of the right will now believe that the Deep State is taking down Jim Jordan and the whole thing is a setup.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) July 7, 2018
It's like Pizzagate. Only true. And bigger. And Republican. https://t.co/2osVlx7iIl
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) July 3, 2018
He’s basically reading from the same script all abusers and enablers use to defend themselves against accusation of improper sexual conduct—downplay the accusations, smear the accusers, and claim victimhood status.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 6, 2018
And his unwavering loyalty and service to Trump has won the president as one of his most ardent defenders. Speaking to reporters before a rally in Montana, Trump defended the congressman in no uncertain terms. “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said. “I believe him. I believe him 100 percent. No question in my mind.”Trump also mocked the #MeToo movement against sexual assault at the same rally. Of course Trump has also denies the 20 accusations of sexual assault made against him by various women throughout the years.
While the current scandal has many parallels, it’s eerily similar to former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert’s own scandal. Hastert was a high school wrestling coach before becoming a politician and was accused of sexual abusing students. Recently, he was caught paying off one of his alleged victims and sent to prison. He served as GOP House Speaker for eight years—one of the longest serving Republican Speakers—but his scandal never came to light until he was well out of office.
Still blows my mind that the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House in the nation's history was a child molester who managed to keep it a total secret almost his entire adult life.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 6, 2018