Wrestling referee warned Rep. Jim Jordan about Ohio State doctor's sex misconduct, new lawsuit says

  • A college wrestling referee claimed in a new lawsuit that he told Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and another coach two decades ago that an Ohio State University team doctor had masturbated in the shower in front of him.
  • But Jordan, who at the time was an assistant Ohio State wrestling coach, and then OSU head coach Russ Hellickson just shrugged off the shocking claim about Dr. Richard Strauss, the suit says.
  • Jordan and Hellickson responded, "Yeah, that's Strauss," according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Columbus, Ohio.

A college wrestling referee claimed in a new lawsuit that he told Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, two decades ago that an Ohio State University team doctor who has been accused of sexually assaulting students had masturbated in the shower in front of him.

But Jordan, who at the time was an assistant Ohio State wrestling coach — and then OSU head coach Russ Hellickson, who was also told about the incident — just shrugged off the shocking claim about Dr. Richard Strauss, the suit says.

Jordan and Hellickson responded, "Yeah, that's Strauss," according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Columbus, Ohio.

The allegation that Jordan knew of Strauss' misdeeds came a day before House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's announcement on Friday that the powerful congressman has been assigned to the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The referee, identified in court papers as "John Doe 42" is the second person who says in legal filings that he told Jordan about being sexually approached or molested by Strauss, who since has died.

Multiple former wrestlers who were coached by Jordan during their time at Ohio State University have previously accused him of turning a blind eye to the abuse.

Jordan's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC, but told Fox News, "Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any kind of sexual abuse, and if he had he would've dealt with it. Multiple investigations have confirmed this simple fact."

Previously, Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing of the alleged abuse by Strauss.

"It's not true," the congressman told Politico in July last year.

"I never knew about any type of abuse. If I did, I would have done something about it. And look, if there are people who are abused, then that's terrible and we want justice to happen."

Hellickson, 71, the other coach whom Doe accused of knowing about the abuse, declined to comment on the record.

An investigation found that Strauss, who was the athletic team doctor at Ohio State University from 1978 to 1998, had sexually abused at least 177 male students over decades, with the earliest known abuse dating back to 1979. The university said he committed at least 1,429 sexual assaults and 47 rapes while employed by the school, according to the university's 2019 crime report.

According to the latest lawsuit, John Doe 42 was with Strauss in an otherwise empty school locker room after a wrestling match that he refereed in 1994 or 1995.

John Doe 42 decided to shower at the far end, and Strauss chose the shower closest to him, despite having multiple open showers to choose from. Doe said he noticed Strauss' body was touching his and found Strauss masturbating and staring at him, according to the court filing.

After verbally confronting Strauss, Doe exited the shower, and told Jordan and Hellickson about what had happened, saying that Strauss was "whacking off in the shower."

Jordan and Hellickson replied, "Yeah, that's Strauss."

John Doe 42 told NBC News on Thursday that "it was common knowledge what Strauss was doing, so the attitude was it is what it is."

He continued, "I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref."

A second referee known as John Doe 30 said in the same court filing that he was also sexually abused by Strauss in 1990 or 1991, after he asked an unidentified wrestling coach if he could see a trainer to have his back wrapped to prevent injury before a wrestling match he was scheduled to referee.

"John Doe 30 was disturbed by Dr. Strauss's behavior and called OSU's Athletic Department to report the incident a few days later. He was connected to an OSU Athletics Department employee," the suit says.

"John Doe 30 told that person that he was fondled while getting an ACE bandage wrapped during the wrestling meet. He also gave the OSU employee his name and phone number. The employee said, 'OK, we'll take care of it,' according to the suit. "John Doe 30 was never contacted by anyone at OSU regarding his report."

Jordan was employed as an assistant coach for the wrestling team between 1986 and 1994, which overlaps with the time frame of this incident.

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