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Rep. Jim Jordan denies knowledge of abuse claims against doctor

by Daniel James Devine
Posted 7/06/18, 12:46 pm

Five former Ohio State University wrestlers this week accused U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, of failing as a coach to respond to accusations of sexual abuse against a former team doctor. Multiple male athletes say that Richard Strauss groped them, watched them take locker room showers, or otherwise behaved inappropriately during medical exams in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Although the athletes say Strauss’ behavior was an open secret and they on at least some occasions complained to staff, Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1987 to 1995, says he had no knowledge of any such accusations during his tenure at the school.

Jordan said this week that if he’d known of abuse, “I would have done something about it,” reported The Wall Street Journal. Jordan is a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and a potential candidate for House speaker. On Thursday, President Donald Trump told reporters, “I believe Jim Jordan 100 percent. He’s an outstanding man.” Strauss committed suicide in 2005, but authorities have only now begun an investigation of the accusations of abuse.

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Daniel James Devine

Daniel is managing editor of WORLD Magazine and lives in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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  • AlanE
    Posted: Fri, 07/06/2018 03:22 pm

    Trump's support notwithstanding, this doesn't look good for Jordan. 

    It was a different world in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, and lots of stuff was written off as boys being boys (or, in this case, a man acting as a very poorly behaved boy). As a general rule, I'm cautious about ceding a new generation a claim to the moral high ground on matters that were seen in a different light in an earlier day, but in this case the high ground surely does belong to the new way of looking at things. A generation or two ago, "boys being boys" included a lot of fairly innocent behavior, but some ugly pockets of of highly repulsive behavior as well. I had coaches who looked the other way, too, though never--that I know of--in a case that involved repulsive behavior on the part of an adult in a position of trust.

    My hunch at what really happened, given the environment I grew up in at about the same time, is that Jordan knew of rumors of untoward things going on but thought of them as a silly rite of passage or simply juvenile behavior with no deeply malicious or disturbing content (to do so would be perfectly consistent with what a majority of my coaches seemed to feel about that sort of thing). As for Strauss in particular, Jordan probably felt he needed to grow up a little, but didn't see the deeper layers of trouble and harm in the rumored activites. In my experience, the coaches who were willing to jump into the middle of these juvenile games and put an end to them were relatively few. The dominant thought seemed to be that kids would grow out of this sort of thing, not that their dismissive posture made things very pleasant for those made to endure the indignities.

    I'd like to hope I'm wrong about the above, but the way the story is unfolding reminds me a lot of Joe Paterno. I think we need to learn how to restore men like Jordan (making an assumption here) and Paterno (men whose sins are neither the sins of Strauss nor Sandusky), but a first step toward restoration is an actual admission that something unseemly happened under their watch. It also means the current wave of self-righteousness needs to abate long enough to give such men (or women, as the case may be) an opportunity to show repentance and be restored. Right now, men like Jordan and Paterno can expect no measure of mercy whatsoever from the crowd, and a plea of "I had no idea" makes a certain amount of sense in that context.

    Original sin. It's a real thing.

  • AlanE
    Posted: Fri, 07/06/2018 03:45 pm

    As a further thought on the same idea, note that Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach. An assistant coach in a non-revenue sport is as close to a nobody in the grand scheme of things at a college or university as you are going to find. Jordan would have had all sorts of motivations to not dig deeper into any rumors of untoward behavior on the part of Strauss. That doesn't justify silence (assuming silence was Jordan's response), but it does add a very important layer of context.

  • Deb O's picture
    Deb O
    Posted: Fri, 07/06/2018 06:22 pm

    If it was an open secret, I believe the young (now older) men who say they told Jordan. At the very least, he should not go any farther up the chain in Congress. That can be punishment enough for looking the other way as an assistant coach who should have been protecting these athletes.

  • HJM
    Posted: Fri, 07/06/2018 08:02 pm

    Nothing I have read on this topic has declared anyone specifically told Jim Jordan about what was happening...only that they think it was impossible for him not to have known.  If no one told him about what was happening, then there are a number of assumptions being made with nothing to prove their truth.  It is bad enough when the media hangs a person without a trial, but for christians to do it is reprehensible.  I do not know Rep. Jordan, nor do I live in his state, but I do know that I would never want someone to try me and determine my guilt based on assumptions, and I believe Jordan deserves better than that from his brothers and sisters in Christ.  How about if we pray for truth to prevail for both Jordan's sake and the men's sakes who were treated so abominably.  God forgive us for being so quick to judge.


  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 07/06/2018 09:48 pm

    23 years ago and counting. And accusations come forth as Jordan becomes a candidate for Speaker of the House. FIVE wrestlers from back then come together with charges. My cynical mind asks, “does this look like an orchestrated attack?”  Hmmmm...

    50 years ago when I was a kid in school, it was just Phys Ed shower horseplay, and there was another common name for it that’s not appropriate for this venue.  Not saying there wasn’t anything harmful going on, just that if it was, back then the majority of us would have been totally unaware of the possibility. 

    But as for more recently, like the 90’s, weren’t we as a culture much more alert to such things?  I’m thinking Jordan has probably moved as high on the political ladder as he’s going to get.