Ohio representative and former Ohio State University wrestling coach Jim Jordan aided and abetted in the university's cover-up of sexual abuse within the program, a former team captain said in front of Ohio state legislators on Wednesday.
"Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for a half-hour," DiSabato said Wednesday. "That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on there."
Adam DiSabato, captain of the team during the early 1990s, told members of the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee that Jordan and other officials ignored former Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss's sexual abuse of wrestlers from 1979 to 1997. DiSabato said that Jordan and other team officials knew about open-shower facilities that facilitated sexual harassment and abuse of team wrestlers. Jordan has previously denied the allegation.
Wednesday's testimony is a part of a hearing on legislation that would permit survivors of Strauss's abuse to sue the university for damages. Currently, the statute of limitations disallows them from doing so.
A university study found that Strauss abused at least 177 people during his tenure as the wrestling team's doctor. Strauss was never charged and died by suicide in 2005.
A former Ohio State wrestler told the university's lawyers in 2018 that, “Based on testimony from victim athletes from each of the aforementioned varsity sports, we estimate that Strauss sexually assaulted and/or raped a minimum of 1,500/2,000 athletes at OSU.”
In November 2019, NBC News reported that around 350 men were suing Ohio State, saying they were abused.
DiSabato and his brother, Mike, were among the initial whistleblowers that prompted the university to launch an investigation in 2018.
Jordan, who has represented Ohio's 4th congressional district since 2007, was once a contender for speaker of the House. He has denied all wrongdoing. President Donald Trump is among those who have spoken out in favor of the embattled legislator.
"I don't believe them at all," Trump told reporters in 2018 about those who have accused Jordan of covering up rampant sexual abuse at Ohio State. "I believe him."
Eight wrestlers have said publicly that Jordan was aware of—and did not do anything to stop—Strauss's systemic abuse.
One former wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, recounted to NBC News an instance in which he was abused and told Jordan directly. Another former wrestler, Shawn Dailey, later corroborated the story.
“I remember I had a thumb injury and went into Strauss’ office and he started pulling down my wrestling shorts,” he said. “I’m like, what the f--- are you doing? And I went out and told Russ and Jim what happened. I was not having it. They went in and talked to Strauss.”
Yetts said he and his teammates talked to Jordan numerous times about Strauss.
“For God’s sake, Strauss’s locker was right next to Jordan’s and Jordan even said he’d kill him if he tried anything with him,” Yetts said.
DiSabato has said that Jordan gave out a certificate each year called “King of the Sauna,” to the person with the most clever banter while in the shower—a shower where Strauss allegedly performed the bulk of his sexual abuse. Jordan, DiSabato said, hung out in the sauna daily.
A spokesman for Jordan previously confirmed to the Columbus Dispatch that he did give out that award, but denied allegations that the legislator saw any abuse take place in the sauna.
Since these allegations surfaced in 2018, Jordan has apparently tried to cover-up the cover-up.
In May 2019, Mike DiSabato stated in a Title IX lawsuit against Ohio State that Jordan's second cousin aimed to "intimidate and retaliate" against him for speaking out publicly. Later that year, Jordan, his younger brother and another former wrestling coach were accused of witness tampering and intimidation in their attempt to suppress accusations from a former wrestler, according to NBC News.
Jordan has, too, denied those allegations.