COLUMBUS (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday defended an Ohio congressman accused of ignoring ex-college wrestlers’ allegations of sexual abuse, calling him “a man of honesty, a man of integrity.”
Ryan, a Republican, also suggested the House Ethics Committee doesn’t need to examine the allegations against fellow GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.
Ryan said that panel isn’t supposed to investigate allegations from “a couple of decades ago when they weren’t in Congress.”
Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University from 1987 to 1995. Some ex-wrestlers from the late 1980s and early 1990s have said in recent weeks they were inappropriately groped by doctor Richard Strauss during medical exams, and that Strauss participated in odd behavior such as showering with athletes from different teams several times a day.
Some of these wrestlers have said Jordan knew at the time about Strauss.
Jordan, leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has denied that. Several other ex-wrestlers at Ohio State have countered the allegations that Jordan knew and have come out in support of the congressman. Jordan was a celebrated college wrestler at the University of Wisconsin.
Independent investigators commissioned by the university are reviewing allegations against Strauss by men from 14 sports and are also looking into his work for student health services and at his off-campus medical clinic.
Ohio State has said more than 150 former athletes and witnesses have been interviewed so far, and the school has urged anyone with information to contact the investigators from the Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie.
Jude Skove, who wrestled at Ohio State from 1983-86, described Strauss as a “strange bird.” But Skove never heard any reports about the physician groping them or being inappropriate, he said Wednesday.
Skove was a three-year captain who said he certainly would have heard the stories if Strauss had acted inappropriately with his teammates.
“If doc crossed the line in doing something like groping or just coming on to one of the guys that made them really upset, I think they would have come and said something to me,” Skove told The Associated Press.
Skove’s time at Ohio State didn’t overlap with Jordan’s tenure as an assistant coach, but Skove knows Jordan well and stands behind the congressman in his contention that he didn’t know anything about the abuse claims.
Former Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and former vice president of human resources Linda Tom tells The Columbus Dispatch they don’t remember receiving any complaints about Strauss when they worked there in the 1990s.