“Jim Jordan didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything, and I don’t think any of the other coaches knew anything.”
Embattled Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and his allies went on offense Monday as a half dozen former wrestling coaches rallied behind their former Ohio State coaching colleague and insisted he did not know about a team doctor sexually assaulting student-athletes decades ago.
The Hill reports,
In a phone interview on Monday, former Ohio State University head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson vehemently denied that he or Jordan had ever seen or been told that Dr. Richard Strauss was molesting or sexually assaulting OSU wrestlers during the 1980s and ’90s.
“I am frankly pissed off at what they are doing to Jim Jordan. This is hysteria and politics running the narrative,” Hellickson told The Hill in a phone interview. Jordan “gave his heart and soul to the personal development of these athletes. If they are attacking him, why aren’t they attacking the 30 or 40 other coaches at OSU?”
“A whole lot of people were in the dark here. Nobody recognized this,” Hellickson added. “Jim Jordan didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything, and I don’t think any of the other coaches knew anything.”
Moments later, Hellickson and five other former OSU coaches issued a joint statement defending Jordan and saying that they would have “spoken up” had athletes reported specific cases of sexual abuse to them.
“What has been said about Jim Jordan is absolutely wrong. We all worked on the wrestling coaching staff during Jim’s tenure at The Ohio State University. None of us saw or heard of abuse of OSU wrestlers,” the half dozen coaches said in a joint statement. “The well-being of student-athletes was all of our concern. If we had heard of any abuse, we would have spoken up.”
The six OSU coaches are Hellickson and five former assistant coaches: Dave Ruckman, Rex Holman, Ken Chertow, Myron Kharchilava and Kenny Ramsey Jr.
The statement was distributed in a press release sent out by Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, a conservative PR shop which Jordan has hired to help him respond to the ballooning crisis. The firm, based in Alexandria, Va., is helping reporters set up interviews with the Jordan defenders.
The coaches’ statement contradicts allegations by seven former OSU wrestlers who have publicly stated that Jordan knew or must have known about the sexual abuse of OSU athletes while he was an assistant wrestling coach there from 1987 to 1995.
Read more at The Hill