Former Ohio State wrestlers were pressured by their former head coach Russ Hellickson to make statements clearing Rep. Jim Jordan of any guilt relating to allegations against Richard Strauss, a report by NBC News said.
Jordan, who is in the midst of a bid to be the next Speaker of the House, was the assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1987-1995. He has come under fire for allegedly knowing about abuse by Strauss and saying nothing.
According to the wrestlers and texts they showed NBC News, Hellickson asked them to make a statement clearing Jordan of wrongdoing a day after they publicly accused him of knowing about it. NBC News’ report also said the wrestlers say it was made clear to them by Hellickson that he was under pressure from Jordan to convince the wrestlers to clear Jordan’s name.
“I’m sorry you got caught up in the media train,” Hellickson wrote in a text to a former wrestler that was shared with NBC News. “If you think the story got told wrong about Jim, you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about. I can put you in contact with someone who would release it.”
In response to the report Jordan’s spokesman, Ian Fury, released a statement saying they encourage the truth.
“Seven coaches have said exactly what the Congressman said. Many wrestlers have echoed those comments and support for the Congressman,” the statement said. “Why are they all saying the same thing? Because it’s the truth. Of course we encouraged folks to speak the truth.”