Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is this scandal about in a nutshell?
US House member Jim Jordan (R-OH) was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University from 1987 to 1995. A number of former wrestlers are now accusing Jordan of ignoring their ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of the team doctor, Richard Strauss.
2. But Jordan says the wrestlers are lying.
Jordan has said, categorically, that he was unaware of the abuse, and that he would have done something about it had he heard anything. At this point, two of the former wrestlers have said they told Jordan of the doctor's abuse, and Jordan did nothing about it (one says Jordan "snickered," replied "I have nothing to do with this," and walked away, refusing to help). Another nine former students say that Jordan must have heard about the abuse, as it was widely known and talked about at the time. It is difficult to believe that all 11 accusers are lying, especially when a number of them consider Jordan their friend, and one even donated to his campaign.
3. Is it true Jordan invoked locker room talk as part of his defense?
Jordan claimed on Fox News that had his students approached him in the locker room to talk about the abuse, as several claim they did, he wouldn't have acted on their complaints because "conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse." In fact, they're not. As the team coach, and an employee at the university, Jordan served a supervisory role that made him responsible for the safety and security of the students under his care. The moment a student told him about the doctor's misconduct, it shouldn't have mattered whether Jordan was standing in a locker room, his office, or the corner store. It would have been his responsibility to follow up on the concerns.
4. How many former students are saying they were abused?
Dr. Strauss worked at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998, so Jordan overlapped with Strauss for a period of 8 years or so. While the university has not released the number of total victims, they have said that victims have come forward representing 14 different sports at the school. That means a minimum of 14 victims. Though, victims are claiming that the total could number up to 2,000 (which isn't an unreasonable estimate, considering Strauss was a doctor at the school for 20 years).
5. What is Dr. Strauss accused of?
Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, would allegedly fondle and grope the boys' genitals during medical exams in his office. It was a common joke in the locker room, the boys say, that every time you visited "Doc Strauss" he made you drop your pants, even for a sore thumb. He would then examine the boys' genitals for an extended period of time. Brian Garrett, a former nurse who worked for Strauss briefly, says he witnessed Strauss fondle one student patient to the point of orgasm. Strauss then asked Garrett if he had any conditions he might like checked, Garrett said he had heartburn, so Strauss had him lay down and almost immediately starting groping him as well. Garrett says he quit the next day. Strauss is also accused of showering with the students, and spending up to an hour lathering up so he could watch them.
6. Didn't Jordan's former boss, the head coach, come to his defense?
Yes, but. Then-Head Coach Russ Hellickson signed a statement on July 9th, along with a number of other former colleagues, claiming that none of them had heard of the abuse at the time, and thus Jordan couldn't have heard about it either. The problem for Hellickson is that he was recorded on video, one month earlier, saying that he told Dr. Strauss to knock it off, and specifically complained to Strauss about his hands-on exams and the extended showers alongside the students. Clearly Hellickson had heard of the problem, otherwise he'd have never spoken with Strauss about it. It's thus not clear why Hellickson contradicted himself in the written statement, nor whether the other signatories are also similarly compromised.
7. Have Republicans in Congress come to Jordan's defense?
Several of Jordan's House Republican colleagues, including Speaker Paul Ryan, have come to Jordan's defense. But Jordan is accused of hiding the fact that he was aware of the abuse. If Jordan in fact did know about the abuse, and hid that fact, then Jordan's colleagues in the House would have no way of knowing that Jordan was lying about something he was hiding. Their statements of support, while likely comforting to Jordan, do nothing to change the facts of the allegation.
Also, a crisis PR firm defending Jordan found several former wrestlers to say that they don't think Jordan knew of the abuse. But those same students confirmed that they had experienced abuse at the hands of Dr. Strauss as well, which only reaffirms how widespread the problem really was, and thus how increasingly difficult it is to believe that Jordan was unaware.
8. Is it true that Jordan blamed the "deep state" for this scandal?
Yes. Jordan suggested that the allegations of abuse, and his role in hiding them, are meant to thwart his race for Speaker of the House after Paul Ryan steps down this coming January, and to retaliate for Jordan grilling Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a recent House hearing. It is difficult to believe, however that Rod Rosenstein went back in time four decades to create thousands of victims of abuse in order to harm Jordan's race for the speakership forty years later. As for why the victims did not step forward earlier, as we've seen with the MeToo movement, victims of sexual abuse are often loath to come forward -- and in this case it's especially true, considering the victims are men.
9. But you're not alleging that Jordan abused any of the students?
Correct. There have been no allegations that Jordan abused any of the students. There are, however, questions about the propriety of some of Jordan's admitted conduct at the time. Jordan says he would shower and take saunas with his students, and he even invented a "King of the Sauna" award for the wrestler who bragged the most in the sauna about the day's workout. Some find that conduct inappropriate.
10. Who are you?
I'm John Aravosis, a longtime progressive political consultant and writer who is the editor of AMERICAblog and co-host of the UnPresidented Podcast.
11. What do you hope to achieve with this campaign?
I want Jim Jordan to tell the truth, and be held accountable for his actions.
12. How can I help?
- Chip in to help us hold Jim Jordan accountable through the election this fall. Click here to donate.
- Sign the petition calling on Jordan to come clean and resign.