Lead Jordan defender changes story

Russ Hellickson, the former head wrestling coach at Ohio State, while Representative Jim Jordan worked there as assistant wrestling coach, released a letter on Monday defending Jordan from charges that he knew about the ongoing sexual abuse of his wrestlers and did nothing about it. As part of his defense of Jordan, Hellickson claimed that no one had heard of any abuse at that time, including Hellickson himself.

But as NBC reports, Hellickson appears to contradict himself in a recent video, in which Hellickson describes the toxic sexual atmosphere in the wrestling locker room at Ohio State. In the video, Hellickson says things were so bad that he confronted the team doctor, Richard Strauss, who several athletes now charge with having sexually molested them during medical exams. He specifically complained to Strauss about being "too hands on" with the boys during exams, and about Strauss' penchant for spending an hour in the shower at the same time the wrestlers showered. 

If Hellickson had no idea there was a problem with Strauss, then why did he confront the doctor and tell him to cut it out? As the video shows, Hellickson knew exactly what the problem was.

In other words, the Monday letter defending Jordan is sham. And if Hellickson was so concerned about the situation at the time, then Jordan's claims of ignorance grow even less credible.

John Aravosis
Pelosi: 'Jim Jordan had a duty to protect' Ohio State wrestlers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi weighed in today on the Jim Jordan sexual abuse scandal, which is sure to get Republicans seething, and that's probably Pelosi's plan. Anything that helps create a story around this scandal helps Democrats and hurts Republicans. And Pelosi weighing in certainly creates a story, and it goads Republicans into responding, which furthers the story even more.

From CNN:

Jim Jordan had a duty to protect them," she said in her first comments about the scandal. "They said he failed. They, the people who are accusing, said he failed. Rather than deny and dismiss them, he should fully cooperate with the investigation."
"He is someone who has always said about everybody, 'Oh, my gosh, look at his record, so and so should have known this, so and so should have known that.' Well, many people say he did know and by his own standard, he should have known."

John Aravosis
NYT: GOP embraces Jordan at their own peril

A new editorial in the NYT:

As a powerful congressman in his mid-50s, Mr. Jordan has repeatedly failed to stand up to a president whose morally sketchy behavior he witnesses on a daily basis. Can anyone really discount, with 100 percent certainty, the possibility that a 20-something Jim Jordan might have heard but chosen not to pursue horrifying rumors, or even specific allegations, that could have engulfed his entire university in scandal?

Knee-jerk, belligerent, circle-the-wagons, we’re-the-real-victims-here defiance has become the default attitude in Donald Trump’s Republican Party. It may in fact have become the party’s defining characteristic.

But while it plays well with angry, resentful elements of the Republican base, it’s unlikely to prove an enduringly popular message for the broader electorate. Roy Moore showed as much when he handed Democrats a Senate seat in blood-red Alabama. Lawmakers continue down this path at their own peril.

John Aravosis
Two more accusers say Jordan knew: That's 11 accusers now

Two more former Ohio State wrestlers say GOP Rep. Jim Jordan must have heard his then- college wrestlers talking about the sexual abuse they were suffering at the hands of their team doctor, Richard Strauss. NBC reports that, ironically, the two thought they were defending Jordan with their comments. This brings to 11 the number of former wrestlers saying Jim Jordan must have heard about the abuse.

The first is Reid Delaman:

“There was so much talk I can’t imagine how someone could have made it through, being around everyone and not know,” former Ohio State wrestler Reid Delman said in an interview this week. “To me that doesn’t make sense that they would not have known.”

Like many of the other wrestlers, Delman expressed admiration for Jordan and dismay at his insistence that he knew nothing.

“I don’t want to be part of something that’s getting Jim out of office,” he said. “I don’t even like the idea of it. I do find it surprising that he would even take that approach.”

“It’s easy enough to say, ‘Looking back we should have done something,'” he said.

Next up, Michael Alf, who said he didn’t think Jordan knew about the abuse, but then Alf turned around and suggested maybe Jordan should have known: "The guys didn’t blame Jimmy, but they were wondering why he didn’t just admit that he heard all the joking about Doc Strauss but didn’t put it together that something bad was going on."

In other words, even Jordan's defenders admit that he must have heard the wrestlers talking about being sexually abused by the team doctor. And that's not good news for Jordan.

John Aravosis
Ryan and other top Republicans publicly defend Jim Jordan

As his ninth accuser stepped forward, Jim Jordan hired a crisis PR firm this week to help push a more "pro-Jordan" spin to the media. This included releasing a statement from Jordan's former boss at Ohio State, then-Head Coach Russ Hellickson, who wrote that no one, Hellickson included, knew of the abuse at the time Jordan was there. Unfortunately for Hellickson, CNN found a video from only a month ago in which Hellickson admits that he knew about the allegations, and had confronted Dr. Strauss -- thus calling into question his more recent statement in defense of Jordan.

At the same time, the PR firm found several former wrestlers willing to vouch for Jordan. But even those wrestlers admitted they were either abused by Doc Strauss, or knew of the abuse. This adds more credence to the notion that the abuse was so widespread, and so notorious, that Jordan must have known as well.

Finally, today, Paul Ryan and other other House GOP leaders publicly defended Jordan, saying Jordan was "a man of honesty and a man of integrity." But the question remains: How does Paul Ryan know what Jim Jordan knew or did twenty to thirty years ago, especially since the very accusation Jordan now faces is that he hid the truth? Why wouldn't Jordan hide the truth from Paul Ryan as well? Not to mention, I'm sure House Republicans thought Denny Hastert was a man of integrity too, or they wouldn't have made him their Speaker. How did that work out?

John Aravosis