For over a year, Ohio State University has confronted a controversy surrounding the late Dr. Richard Strauss, a former physician for student athletes from the mid-1970s to late 1990s, who’s been accused of molesting students during his tenure. Independent investigators ultimately concluded that the doctor sexually abused 177 male students.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), perhaps best known for helping create the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, was a coach at the university during part of Strauss’ tenure, and as we’ve discussed, he’s been accused of turning a blind eye to the doctor’s abuses.
It’s against this backdrop that NBC News ran a new report last night, advancing the story further.
A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was then the assistant coach.
“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan’s response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.
John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss.
“It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing so the attitude was it is what it is,” the referee told NBC News. “I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”
Jordan has denied any wrongdoing, and Donald Trump has been steadfast in his support of his far-right congressional ally.
NBC News first helped break this story in July 2018, reporting on several former student athletes who said Strauss’s sexual misconduct was common knowledge, to the point that it would’ve been impossible for Jordan to have been unaware.