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Two of wrestlers making allegations against Rep. Jordan reportedly have had run-ins with the law or OSU

By Darrel Rowland and Jessica Wehrman • Updated Jul 5, 2018 at 11:43 PM

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan's office fought back Wednesday against accusations that he knew about allegations of abuse by a doctor for the Ohio State University wrestling team two decades ago but did not report it.

In what looks to become a sustained and full-throated defense, Jordan's office produced statements backing him from former Ohio State head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson and three-time world wrestling champ Lee Kemp, who went to the University of Wisconsin.

Kemp said that "the idea that Jim would know of abuse of his wrestlers and do nothing is utterly absurd."

Hellickson said: "We dealt with many challenges together when he was one of my assistant coaches, and it's important to know that neither Jim nor I would sidestep or avoid challenges for our wrestlers just because the circumstances were painful or uncomfortable — in fact, those are the kind of circumstances that motivated Jim the most. At no time while Jim Jordan was a coach with me at Ohio State did either of us ignore abuse of our wrestlers."

Jordan, speaking at a Fourth of July event in Fremont, Ohio, insisted that reports by three wrestlers at Ohio State that he knew of the abuse and did not report it were "not accurate."

"The things he said are just not true," Jordan said of Michael DiSabato, who told NBC that Jordan was aware of sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss at Ohio State. "We knew of no abuse, never heard about abuse; if we had, we would've reported it."

Jordan said he had received an email from DiSabato at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, and the congressman said he planned to report it to the Capitol Police. A spokesman said Jordan has considered calling the police because of earlier correspondence from DiSabato.

Jordan said he knew Strauss at Ohio State, "but there's no truth to the fact that I knew of any abuse. And I've talked to other coaches, they didn't know about any abuse; that's just not accurate to say those things — that we know of it and didn't report it. That's just not true."

The Urbana Republican also took issue with a statement from Kathleen Trafford, a partner with the law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, that he had not responded to emails or phone calls requesting an interview. The law firm was hired by OSU last spring to probe allegations against Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.

Jordan said his office searched for communications from the law firm but couldn't find any. Wednesday, in Fremont, he said he would willingly answer questions.

Politico noted that two of the wrestlers making allegations against Jordan, DiSabato and Dunyasha Yetts, have had run-ins with the law or the university.

DiSabato, who sold OSU merchandise, lost a contract with the university and has fought with it over his right to license the Ohio State brand. Yetts served 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud charges in an investment scheme.

DiSabato told The Dispatch that Jordan is a "coward" for not acknowledging that he knew about Strauss' mistreatment of athletes.

Yetts told The New York Times that he informed Jordan multiple times — on road trips, in the sauna and after practices — about "the way Strauss performed physicals on us."

"Coach Jordan knew what was going on, 100 percent," Yetts said.

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©2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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