Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is rejecting accusations that he knew of and did nothing about alleged sexual abuse by a longtime Ohio State University sports doctor.
Jordan, who leads the conservative Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House, used to work as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986-1994. In a story first reported by NBC News, two former Ohio State wrestlers allege Jordan and the broader sports administration knew Strauss regularly showered with students and touched them inappropriately during exams.
The accusations come as Ohio State widens its investigation into Dr. Richard Strauss, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by athletes in multiple sports and from multiple schools. The school's investigation began in April after Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler for Ohio State in the late '80s and early '90s, came forward with accusations of assault.
A statement from Jordan’s office says he never saw, heard about or received reports of abuse during his tenure as a coach. The statement says Jordan will support investigators however he can, because “if what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation and justice.”
But according to a special counsel appointed by the Ohio Attorney General, investigators had previously reached out to Jordan's office by phone and email requesting an interview without response. The special counsel's letter says "The investigative team is continuing its efforts to schedule an interview with Rep. Jordan, as well as other individuals with potential knowledge relating to the allegations."
Struass served as a team physician at Ohio State from 1981 to 1995. He died in 2005, and it was ruled a suicide.
DiSabato and Dunyasha Yetts, another former wrestler, say Jordan isn't being truthful when he says he wasn't aware of allegations.
Yetts, 47, of Steubenville, said Strauss groped him at least three times during routine exams when he wrestled in the early to mid-1990s. Jordan was Yetts' weight-class coach at the time, and Yetts says the two spoke frequently about Strauss.
Jordan was among the people Yetts told about groping the first time in happened in 1992, Yetts told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
"He'd even make comments, 'This guy better not touch me,'" Yetts said.
Jordan is one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress and a potential contender for House Speaker. He's taken leading roles in fighting the Affordable Care Act and pushing back against the government's Russia investigation.
Ohio State's investigation into Strauss, which is being led by the outside firm Perkins Coie LLP, recently expanded to potential abuse against high school-aged students. Investigators have talked to hundreds of interviews so far, receiving allegations of misconduct from athletes in 14 different sports as well as from non-students outside the university.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.