A lawsuit filed Thursday claims Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican congressman from Ohio’s fourth congressional district and former assistant coach for the Ohio State wrestling team, knew of former university physician Richard Strauss’ abuse.
The complaint was filed Thursday in the Southern District Court of Ohio on behalf of 43 men, calls the abuse of Strauss “perhaps the greatest sex abuse scandal in American history,” and includes a number of allegations including that Jordan shrugged off Strauss’ abuse.
Strauss was a team doctor for 17 men’s varsity sports and a physician at the Student Wellness Center at Ohio State from 1978-98, during which he abused at least 177 students and student-athletes, according to a report released in May following an investigation conducted by Perkins Coie, LLP. The investigation also found that Ohio State failed to act on Strauss’ abuse at the time.
Ohio State’s latest count, according to a university press release, includes nearly 1,500 instances of Strauss-related abuse. Fourteen Strauss-related lawsuits have been filed against the university.
Strauss died by suicide in 2005.
According to the lawsuit, an anonymous plaintiff who refereed college wrestling at Ohio State “a few times a year” was abused by Strauss following a wrestling match in St. John’s Arena in 1994 or 1995, when the plaintiff was in his mid-forties.
The plaintiff claims that Strauss masturbated while staring at the plaintiff in the shower. The plaintiff left the locker room and told former wrestling coach Russ Hellickson and Jordan, to which they replied, “Yeah, that’s Strauss,” the suit claims.
Jordan did not respond for comment by time of publication. Jordan has been accused of knowing about Strauss abuse in the past, but has denied the allegations.
In July 2018, Jordan told Fox News host Brett Baier that he had never heard of abuse by Strauss.
“I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any kind of abuse,” Jordan said. “If I did, I would have dealt with it. A good coach puts the interests of his student-athletes first.”
Ben Johnson, university spokesperson, said in an email that the university continues to participate in the mediation process and cover the cost of professionally certified counseling services to those affected by Strauss’ abuse.
“Richard Strauss’ actions are reprehensible, and we remain deeply concerned for all those who have been affected by Strauss,” Johnson said.
Another anonymous plaintiff, who was on both the wrestling and football teams, claims that Strauss drugged and anally raped him when seeking treatment for a kidney infection in 1979. According to the suit, the plaintiff told former wrestling coach Chris Ford, who accused the plaintiff of lying and did not let him back on the team the following season.
Ford died in January 2016.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Ohio State medical students and student-athletes from sports including club and intramural hockey, cheerleading, tennis, track and field, volleyball, wrestling, lacrosse, soccer, gymnastics and swimming. Among the plaintiffs are a victim who attended Ohio State’s summer wrestling camp for high school students and students who were abused during medical examinations.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, as well as court costs and expenses.