The political crisis facing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) deepened on Saturday as a seventh former Ohio State University (OSU) wrestler came forward, telling the Washington Post that Jordan knew about widespread sexual harassment while he was an assistant wrestling coach.
The new accuser is David Range, who wrestled for Ohio State in the late 1980s. He said Jordan had to have known about alleged sexual misconduct by the team’s doctor, Richard Strauss, because it happened “regularly” to team members. Range also said that it was a topic of conversation and people talked about it all the time.
It remains to be seen whether Jordan’s approach — very similar to Donald Trump’s approach to dealing with multiple accusations — will work or not. Allegedly there were hundreds of athletes at OSU who were involved during the eight years Jordan worked there so the chances of more of them coming forward to testify against him are great.
“Jordan definitely knew that these things were happening — yes, most definitely,” Range told The Post. “It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence.”
Range said Jordan was present during group conversations in the locker room about Strauss’s inappropriate sexual behavior with male athletes.
“We talked about it all the time in the locker room” while Jordan was there, Range said. “Everybody joked about it and talked about it all the time.”
Range also confirmed reports from Jordan’s other accusers that Strauss touched wrestlers genitalia inappropriately during medical examinations and ogled them in the locker room showers.
“He just fondled you a little too long while he gave you a hernia check,” said Range, a Cleveland resident. “And then he stayed in the showers, like, an hour until everyone was done.”
Jordan’s crisis began last week when three former OSU wrestlers came forward, saying he knew or must have known about inappropriate sexual harassment in the athletic department. As Jordan has continued his denials, four more athletes have spoken to the media saying Jordan knew what was going on but did nothing about it.
At first Jordan said he knew nothing but then said he heard “locker room talk.” “Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse,” Jordan told Fox News.
Then, when he was later asked about hearing wrestlers talk about sexual abuse, Jordan flatly denied it, saying he “did not, did not” hear anything.
Because Congress has been out of town all week for the July 4th holiday very few of Jordan’s fellow representatives have spoken out about his sex abuse scandal. The chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, did say that he was standing behind Jordan and supporting him.
If the crisis continues to grow, however, it is possible that Republicans in Congress will distance themselves from the conservative leader in order to avoid negative fallout in November’s midterm elections. When Congress returns in the coming week we will learn more about how this scandal will play out and what impact it will have on the political environment in Washington.