Six former Ohio State University wrestlers have now come forward to deny Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) assertions that he did not know about the team doctor’s habitual sexual abuse while he was assistant coach. Now, new details paint a culture of “sexual deviancy” and “voyeurism” surrounding the team — making Jordan’s ignorance seem even more unlikely.
According to a Friday Politico report, members of the wrestling team would be frequently harassed by men who attended or worked for the university. The former wrestlers reportedly said that the men would masturbate while watching them shower and even engage in sexual acts in the wrestlers’ workout areas.
Larkins Hall, the building where the team was housed, was reportedly such a vulnerable target for these men that there are online postings describing how easy it was to watch the naked wrestlers.
Per Politico, head coach Russ Hellickson had to physically drag the voyeurs out of the building on multiple occasions, and reportedly begged the university to move the team to a private facility.
These damning alleged details come on top of the many accounts of sexual abuse at the hand of team doctor Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005. The university has since opened an investigation into his alleged assaults, which many former wrestlers maintain was widespread knowledge throughout the team.
Jordan, who served as Hellickson’s right hand man from 1986 to 1994, has consistently denied that he knew anything of the various abuses.
“Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse,” Jordan told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Friday. “No one ever reported any abuse to me. I would have dealt with it.”
But former members of the team assert that the culture surrounding the team was impossible to ignore.
“Coaching my athletes in Larkins Hall was one of the most difficult things I ever did,” said a former wrestling coach and colleague of Jordan to Politico. “It was a cesspool of deviancy. And that’s a whole ’nother story that no one has addressed.”
“Was there some deviant behavior? … Was there behavior when guys were coming into the sauna and showers, was there sexual misconduct? No one is denying that,” former wrestler George Pardos said of Larkins Hall to Politico.
Some players added that even if the words “abuse” and “assault” were not used, which wasn’t uncommon for the time, Jordan certainly knew what was going on.
Dunyasha Yetts, another former wrestler, said that when he got injured, he asked Jordan to come see Strauss with him so he would not be groped. Jordan’s office has reportedly denied the allegation.
“Yeah, you can say we never told you those words because we didn’t know those words, which is true,” Yetts said in reference to framing the incidents in sexual assault terms. “But for him to say he didn’t know? I asked him to come in there with me!”
Per Politico, the allegations are tearing the close-knit Ohio State University wrestler-alumni community apart, as some rush to Jordan’s defense while others express anger and disbelief that he would feign ignorance to protect his own skin.