There are now 15 former Ohio State University wrestlers defending Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) from accusations that he knew about sexual abuse but did nothing.
The former students’ statements were collected in a press release and posted on the website “Stand with Jim Jordan,” created by public relations firm Shirley & Banister, hired by Jordan. (Disclosure: Shirley & Banister were retained by my former employer, the Washington Examiner, when I first started working there in 2013). Diana Banister said she had “reached out to the congressman because he’s a friend.”
Fourteen of the defending wrestlers have used their real names, while one has remained anonymous. Rob Archer, who wrestled at OSU from 1993 and 1998 (Jordan was the assistant coach between 1987 and 1995), sent an email to the PR firm calling the allegations against Jordan “100% false,” adding that “Jim Jordan is an ethical, outstanding man.”
Cullen Waugh, who wrestled at OSU from 1994 to 1999, said he felt “trying to make this political in any way devalues even more the people who were personally affected by this.”
Other wrestlers questioned whether the alleged abuser, Richard Strauss, even committed the acts of which he is accused. Jim Picolo said Strauss “was a little odd” but said he “never saw Dr. Strauss do anything inappropriate.” Andy Stickley said he “never once heard a teammate say that they had been violated by Dr. Strauss.” Jude Skove said Strauss was “weird” but “never overstepped boundaries in my experience.” His brother, Andrew Skove, said he was “not aware of any incidents that could have potentially been covered-up.”
Still others defended Jordan, but agreed that Strauss had committed transgressions. Michael Alf told The Washington Post there were “definitely inappropriate things that in my opinion were pretty disgusting going on all around us.” Matt Mondalek said, “Dr. Strauss conducted his transgressions behind closed doors and regretfully, I never told anyone except for my father.”
Two wrestlers even suggested that Strauss’ accusers, many of whom are the ones accusing Jordan of covering up the abuse, are looking for a payday. “We know how the accusers have pissed away millions of dollars and are looking for a quick infusion of money!” said Ferdinand J. Miller, who wrestled at OSU between 1987 and 1992, the core of Jordan’s career as assistant coach. George Pardos told The Hill: “After Larry Nassar, everyone is seeing dollar signs.”
A total (by my count) of eight former student athletes have now come forward — some anonymously — to claim Jordan knew about the abuse, either directly or indirectly. The latest accusation comes from an anonymous former student who told CNN that he told Jordan that Strauss “held [his] balls longer than normal” and Jordan “just snickered.”
Even if Jordan didn’t know about the abuse, the damage to his reputation has been done. The questions will always be there in the minds of his opponents, even if OSU determines Jordan had no knowledge of the abuse.