STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Former wrestler speaks out against Jim Jordan

Former Ohio State University wrestler Michael DiSabato claims that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) knew about alleged sexual abuse at the university when he was an assistant wrestling coach. Jordan denies that he turned a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse.

Posted: Jul 5, 2018 4:12 AM
Updated: Jul 5, 2018 4:30 AM

A man who wrestled for Ohio State University about 30 years ago says university officials, including an assistant coach who is now a US congressman, knew about allegations of sexual abuse by a doctor who treated members of the school's athletic teams.

Mike DiSabato, who competed in four seasons between 1987 and 1991, said Tuesday that he believes Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who is a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, knew about the alleged abuse by team doctor Richard Strauss during the eight years Jordan was an assistant coach.

Others who also knew included the team's coach and the school's athletic directors, DiSabato said. They could not be reached for comment.

Jordan has denied knowing about any allegations of abuse and said he will cooperate with investigators.

Strauss died in 2005.

Here's what we know about the allegations and the investigation commissioned by the university.

What does DiSabato say happened?

DiSabato said he was groped by Strauss dozens of times.

"I never saw Doc Strauss over a nine-year time frame (including DiSabato's time as a graduate student) where he didn't ask me to -- where I went to see him for medicine or whatever, finger injury, shoulder, knee -- where he did not want to examine my testicles," he said. "He groped. Every time."

He said he was forced to let it happen.

"If you wanted your meds, if you wanted to stay healthy ... so that you could stay on scholarship, you grinned and beared it, so to speak," he said.

DiSabato later said his first interaction with Strauss was when he was a 14-year-old. Strauss, he said, was conducting research on body fat and high school wrestlers, and DiSabato was a subject.

The body fat test included a genital exam, something "I know (now) to be unnecessary," DiSabato said.

Why does he think Jordan knew about the reported abuse?

The former wrestler said he was close with Jordan and coach Russ Hellickson. That Strauss was a "serial groper" was talked about openly in the team's locker room and known throughout the athletic department, he said.

DiSabato said he doesn't know what Jordan did with the information, and he didn't blame the former coach for the doctor's alleged conduct, saying Jordan -- an OSU assistant coach from 1986 to 1994 -- was not responsible for the abuse or the team's training environment.

CNN was unsuccessful in attempts to get comment from Hellickson.

On Wednesday, Jordan said he would have reported sexual abuse if he had heard about the allegations.

"Things (DiSabato) said are just not true," Jordan said. "If in fact there are problems, we want justice for the victims, obviously, and as I said we're happy to talk with the folks doing the investigation.

"There is no truth to the fact that I knew of any abuse. I've talked to other coaches; they didn't know of any abuse."

What does DiSabato think about Jordan's reaction?

DiSabato said Jordan's comments are "just not true" and he claimed to have the backing of other former wrestlers.

"For Jim Jordan to not support us, not just me, but to not support the group of athletes that trained for him, with him, and competed alongside him for eight years is baffling, not just to me but our entire team," he said.

Are there other people making similar allegations?

The university said it has received allegations of sexual misconduct by Strauss from male members of 14 sports teams and from patients of the school's student health services unit.

The sports are baseball, cheerleading, cross country, fencing, football, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball and wrestling.

A law firm looking into the case is also investigating whether Strauss examined high school students, the university said.

How many people have been interviewed?

According to the university, more than 150 people have been asked questions. They are described as former students and witnesses.

When did Strauss work for the university?

Strauss was employed from 1978 to 1998. He:

• joined the school's clinical faculty and medical staff as an attending physician in September 1978;

• served as a team physician for the school's sports teams from July 1981 to June 1995;

• was a part-time physician for the student health services unit from July 1994 to August 1996;

• resigned from the school's medical staff at the end of 1994 but remained on faculty as professor emeritus until his retirement in July 1998.

What officials does DiSabato say knew about abuse allegations?

DiSabato said he told Jim Jones, the athletic director from 1987 to 1994, when he presented his master's thesis on issues of substance and sexual abuse among athletes at the school.

DiSabato said he believes that Jones' successor, Andy Geiger, also knew because DiSabato said two athletes told him they reported the abuse to Geiger.

CNN has reached out to Jones and Geiger, but neither has responded to requests for comment.

What has the university said about the allegations?

It said it began the investigative process in late March after a former student -- DiSabato told CNN he talked with university officials that month -- reported allegations of sexual misconduct.

"Our efforts will continue to be focused on uncovering what may have happened during this era, what university leaders at the time may have known, and whether any response at the time was appropriate. Once the independent investigation has been completed, we will be in a position to consider what further action may be appropriate." The university said it also has been in contact with law enforcement and prosecutors in case a criminal investigation is warranted.

Ohio State said it also is "investigating whether, and to what extent, Dr. Strauss may have examined high school-aged students during his time at the university."

Who is doing the investigation?

The law firm that represents the university hired another group, Perkins Coie, which has 19 offices in the United States and Asia, to conduct the inquiry.

There is no timetable for the investigation, officials said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 605426

Reported Deaths: 9642
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion836221331
Lake45189680
Allen32646547
Hamilton29240315
St. Joseph27260380
Elkhart24354344
Vanderburgh19292248
Tippecanoe17905133
Johnson14974293
Porter14707168
Hendricks14295248
Madison10909220
Vigo10688179
Clark10581139
Monroe9338110
Delaware9089134
LaPorte9007162
Howard8177143
Kosciusko803182
Warrick668798
Hancock6639104
Bartholomew6443100
Floyd6377109
Wayne6106161
Grant5965115
Dubois554079
Boone549467
Morgan535595
Henry505564
Marshall502684
Cass482663
Dearborn476245
Noble471257
Jackson421947
Shelby413881
Lawrence389179
Clinton372043
Gibson369159
DeKalb345964
Harrison345644
Montgomery343354
Knox334339
Miami319844
Steuben313045
Whitley304526
Wabash301447
Adams299635
Ripley297545
Putnam294149
Huntington290659
Jasper288134
White272242
Daviess266774
Jefferson262538
Decatur246583
Fayette246348
Greene239262
Posey238128
Wells234050
LaGrange227662
Scott223439
Clay221832
Randolph212848
Jennings197736
Sullivan191133
Spencer190121
Washington183722
Fountain183127
Starke174843
Jay167022
Owen163637
Fulton163130
Orange157234
Carroll156415
Rush154418
Perry152727
Vermillion148634
Franklin147833
Tipton131832
Parke13038
Pike116226
Blackford110922
Pulaski96837
Newton90721
Brown87534
Benton86510
Crawford7929
Martin73013
Warren6777
Switzerland6575
Union6267
Ohio4867
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 853982

Reported Deaths: 10599
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100550707
Cuyahoga849601082
Hamilton63509448
Montgomery42863417
Summit34586759
Lucas31151616
Butler30735231
Stark25598430
Warren19552140
Lorain18847223
Mahoning17215337
Lake15967154
Clermont15800111
Delaware1430578
Licking13130137
Trumbull12739313
Fairfield1269181
Greene11975136
Medina11504168
Clark10867265
Wood10289158
Allen9826126
Portage9213108
Miami911373
Richland9085117
Marion7437113
Tuscarawas7339181
Columbiana7286124
Pickaway721750
Wayne6987171
Muskingum693941
Erie6113127
Hancock549090
Ross546098
Scioto536364
Geauga503855
Darke467892
Ashtabula451073
Lawrence450154
Union447728
Sandusky434762
Mercer432488
Huron425441
Seneca424865
Auglaize421164
Shelby420522
Jefferson416769
Belmont412740
Washington385240
Athens37669
Putnam373575
Madison352129
Knox350222
Ashland342838
Fulton336543
Defiance328282
Crawford320573
Preble319137
Brown309121
Logan305532
Ottawa290143
Clinton287943
Williams277167
Highland273718
Jackson262445
Guernsey251325
Champaign249728
Fayette235130
Morrow23124
Perry228718
Holmes223874
Henry217349
Hardin211333
Coshocton204521
Van Wert201145
Gallia195426
Wyandot194651
Pike173917
Adams173015
Hocking171024
Carroll154216
Paulding143421
Noble120340
Meigs108024
Monroe100631
Harrison88421
Morgan82629
Vinton69513
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 20°
Angola
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 23°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 20°
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 20°
Lima
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 20°
Light Snow Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events