Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan appeared on Fox News on Friday night to answer mounting accusations that as a wrestling coach at Ohio State he knew about sexual abuse and didn’t do anything about it.
The team doctor of the Ohio State wrestling team, Dr. Richard Strauss, is accused of having sexually abused male athletes.
Five former wrestlers now say that Jordan, then an assistant coach, knew about the abuse and didn’t do anything.
Jordan appeared on Fox News Channel on Friday night to answer questions for host Bret Baier, who asked him pointedly whether he knew and why he believes the five accusers are lying. Jordan lashed out at several of the accusers, suggesting that they were con-men involved in fraud schemes and that this matter was political.
“This is false,” Jordan said. “If, in fact, there are victims they deserve justice.”
Former wrestler Mike DeSabato was the first to come forward, and said Jordan knew. Jordan attacked the businessman, claiming that he was still bitter about a decade-old souring of a business deal with the university.
Jordan said that DeSabato had a “a criminal record.” A long profile of DeSabato includes some mentions of arrests but no criminal convictions.
“Mike DeSabato has a vendetta against Ohio State. He lost a licensing agreement with Ohio State. He is out to get Ohio State,” he said. “He has a vendetta against our family.”
During his interview with Baier, Jordan repeatedly tried to draw a distinction between “locker room banter” about the doctor’s alleged molestation and what he called a “report.”
“Conversations in the locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse or reported abuse to us.” Jordan said. “Conversations in the locker room are a lot different than people coming up talking about abuse. No one ever reported any abuse to me. If they had I would have dealt with it.”
Baier pushed Jordan about other accusers such as national champion and UFC champion Mark Coleman who said he’s a big fan of Jordan but that the congressman has not been truthful.
“I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I’m concerned,” Coleman told The Hill.
“I feel sorry for Mark Coleman,” Jordan said. “It’s just not accurate.”
“As I said before, conversations in the locker room are a lot different than someone coming up to you and saying there was some kind of abuse,” Jordan claimed.
“So did you hear it in the locker room?” Baier asked. “Something short of abuse that may be considered abuse now in this current time?”
“Did not, did not,” Jordan maintained.