New details are emerging of a possible coverup within the Ohio State University wrestling program regarding abuse against student-athletes perpetrated by former team physician Richard Strauss.
As reported by Cleveland.com, Strauss abused at least 177 male student-athletes between 1979 and 1998. He was suspended by Ohio State in 1996 and committed suicide in 2005.
The details of a coverup among several team officials come as witnesses are called in a hearing for Ohio House Bill 249, which would waive the statute of limitations and allow the OSU athletes who had been abused to sue the university. Already, some 350 men are in the process of doing just that.
Most notably, U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an OSU wrestling alum who served as an assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1987 to 1995, is among those accused of trying to keep the scandal under wraps. Jordan has denied any knowledge of abuse, even in the wake of a university investigation released last May that confirmed abuse was rampant within the program.
However, appearing before the House Civil Justice Committee this week, former OSU wrestling captain Adam DiSabato testified that several team officials, including Jordan, were aware that the team’s open shower facilities put them at risk of being abused and harassed by Strauss but did nothing about it. DiSabato said Jordan called him repeatedly in July 2018, after his brother, Michael DiSabato, was quoted by the media as saying Strauss’ abuse was common knowledge to those within the wrestling program, including Jordan.
“Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling… begging me to go against my brother… That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on there,” Adam DiSabato said during Tuesday's hearing. Later, DiSabato asked the committee, “Are you guys going to do what you’re voted to do? That’s the only reason I’m here.”
Ian Fury, a Jordan spokesperson, called DiSabato’s testimony “another lie.”
“Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had he would have dealt with it,” Fury said in a statement.
State Rep. Tavia Galonski, a democrat who sits on the House Civil Justice committee, has unsuccessfully sought to subpoena Jordan to testify during HB249 hearings.
When asked by State Rep. Jeff Crossman, another democrat, to square his statements with Jordan's previous denials, Adam DiSabato said, "He's a liar."
"He's throwing us under the bus, all of us," DiSabato said. "He's a coward."
Tuesday's hearing was the first since September. House Speaker Larry Householder called for the new hearing last week, accusing university attorneys of dragging their feet in mediation talks, Cleveland.com reported. A university spokesman has said OSU is committed to “reaching a monetary solution as soon as possible.”