GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, leader of the House GOP Freedom Caucus, is now in the endgame of the "long-time enabler of sexual abuse finally facing justice" scenario that we've seen play out all too many times in the last year or so, especially with powerful Republicans.
New allegations in the Ohio State University sexual abuse scandal are threatening to intensify the political firestorm facing its onetime assistant wrestling coach, powerful GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.
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 situation was so egregious that former wrestling head coach Russ Hellickson would at times have to physically drag the gawkers out of the building, several sources familiar with his actions at the time said. Hellickson also pleaded with the university multiple times to move their athletes to a private facility, the sources said. Jordan served as Hellickson’s No. 2, and the coach has been described as Jordan’s mentor.
The accusations could exacerbate Jordan’s troubles. He was the wrestling team’s assistant coach from 1986 to 1994 and has adamantly denied knowledge of any sexual abuse.
“I never knew about any type of abuse,” Jordan said in an interview this week. “If I did, I would have done something about it.”
The notion that Jordan had no idea this was going on for eight years is ludicrous to the point of insanity. He looked the other way as it went on, something he continues to do today with his constant enabling of Donald Trump and other Republicans.
Though none of the wrestlers and coaches interviewed blamed Jordan for the inappropriate behavior they experienced in Larkins Hall, they said he would have had to know about it. One former wrestler told POLITICO he saw Jordan yell at male voyeurs to get out of the sauna, though Jordan’s office refuted this account. Even three wrestlers who defended Jordan said it would have been impossible for him not to notice the pervasive toxic atmosphere surrounding the team.
“Coaching my athletes in Larkins Hall was one of the most difficult things I ever did,” said a former wrestling coach who worked with Jordan but asked not to be named. “It was a cesspool of deviancy. And that’s a whole ’nother story that no one has addressed.”
“Was there some deviant behavior? … Was there behavior when guys were coming into the sauna and showers, was there sexual misconduct? No one is denying that,” said ex-OSU wrestler George Pardos of Larkins Hall in an interview. He defended Jordan as “one of the most honest men I’ve ever known.”
Multiple former wrestlers have accused Jordan, a National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, of being among the faculty members who turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior by the late Richard Strauss, the university’s former athletic doctor. Strauss allegedly preyed on male students during physicals, groping them to the point of making them ejaculate, according to one nurse who witnessed it and recounted the story in a video produced by alleged victims and obtained by POLITICO.
Ohio State has launched an investigation into Strauss’ behavior. Strauss worked at the university from 1978 to 1998. He killed himself in 2005.
This scandal is an important reminder that systemic sexual abuse happens because the powerful enable it, and that men can be victims of sexual abuse as well as women. It's about power and manipulation of the powerless.
Jordan is of course blaming the "Obama Deep State", because the "party of personal responsibility" takes none for itself.
Mr. Jordan, a 54-year-old congressman in his sixth term, was defiant Friday night on Fox News, in his first extended response to the emerging charges. He disparaged some of the former college wrestlers who have come forward to say he knew of allegations that the team doctor, Richard H. Strauss, had fondled them. He said he could not explain why other more friendly wrestlers had leveled similar charges.
“I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any kind of abuse,” said Mr. Jordan, whose in-your-face brand of politics has made him the choice for speaker of the House by an array of conservative groups. “If I did I would have dealt with it. A good coach puts the interests of his student-athletes first.”
When the show’s host, Bret Baier, read a quotation by a former Ohio State wrestler and Ultimate Fighting Championship star, Mark Coleman, that Mr. Jordan would have to have dementia to have forgotten what happened, the congressman offered little explanation.
“I feel sorry for him,” he said of Mr. Coleman. “It’s just not accurate.”
Instead, Mr. Jordan continued to fan conspiracy theories connecting the emergence of the charges to his aggressive questioning last month of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the man many Trump supporters hold responsible for the Russia investigation.
“I think the timing is suspect when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein hearing and the speaker’s race,” he said.
FOX News has been ruthlessly attacking the victims for days now, just as they did with the women who came forward to speak out against Donald Trump.
Fox News on Friday suggested one of the wrestlers accusing Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) of ignoring sexual abuse claims at Ohio State had a “credibility problem” because he was recently released from jail.
Guest host Leland Vittert, filling in for America’s Newsroom anchor Bill Hemmer, was speaking with a panel of media guests during a segment of the show’s second hour about recent allegations against Jordan by former Ohio State wrestlers who claim he was dismissive of sex abuse claims involving former team doctor Richard Strauss in the 1990s. Jordan, an assistant coach there at the time, has denied the allegations, saying he was unaware of the sex abuse claims.
Strauss died in 2005.
“…You have the accusations going back more than a decade against Jim Jordan. How do you prove whether any of this is true?” Vittert asked the panel Friday. “You certainly think the timing is coincidental.”
James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal responded, suggesting Jordan may have made “a lot of enemies in Washington, often for good reason [because] he has been quite persistent demanding accountability out of federal agencies,” and adding that the case against him was likely shaky at best.
Vittert agreed, saying the issue was “interesting.”
“The one wrestler who claims that he directly reported this to Jim Jordan also reportedly had just gotten out of 18 months in jail for bilking investors out of about $2 million. Credibility problem […]?” he said.
The answer to "Why didn't the victims come forward until now?" is always "because they will be attacked by assholes like this."
Jordan's opponent in OH-4 is Democrat Janet Garrett, by the way. She lost rather big in 2016.
I think it will be a lot closer this November.