Paul Ryan defends Jim Jordan amid allegations

House Speaker Paul Ryan called embattled Rep. Jim Jordan a man of honesty and integrity, amid allegations the Ohio lawmaker turned a blind eye toward alleged abuse while he was an assistant wrestling coach two decades ago.

Posted: Jul 12, 2018 5:44 AM
Updated: Jul 12, 2018 5:57 AM

Former Ohio State University wrestling coach Russ Hellickson on Wednesday staunchly defended Rep. Jim Jordan, his former assistant coach, who critics say ignored alleged sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss, the team doctor who killed himself in 2005.

"People are hurt. But based on the story that's coming out about Doc Strauss, they have every right to be. How it's impacting their relationship with Jim Jordan is personal and emotional, and I can understand it in a way," he said in a phone interview with CNN, adding that he's "disheartened" at how the controversy is playing out in national media.

"Athletes who I cherished and a coach who I respect to the highest possible level are being torn apart by semantics. Jim Jordan gave his heart and soul to the athletes ... this is being driven by hysteria and politics," the former coach said.

Hellickson, who arrived at Ohio State in 1986, said he talked to the doctor -- whose alleged actions are the subject of a university investigation involving 14 teams -- about physical contact with the wrestlers. He described the interaction as a discussion, and denied recent media reports labeling it as a confrontation.

Hellickson said he told Strauss that his wrestlers were uncomfortable showering with the doctor. When Strauss pointed out that Hellickson also showered with the athletes, Hellickson told him, "not for an hour, doc" and to "speed it up."

Despite his own concerns about Strauss, Hellickson maintained Jordan may not have known about the alleged abuse that several former wrestlers described to CNN.

"We never talked about it, I never brought it up. Maybe Jim never saw it," he said.

Hellickson said he recently met with Perkins Coie, the investigative law firm appointed by the Ohio Attorney General's Office. "They got everything as graphically as I could tell them," he said.

Jordan, now a Republican congressman from Ohio, has denied any knowledge of inappropriate behavior during his time as an assistant wrestling coach between 1987 and 1995.

Hellickson said he recently spoke to another person from the same period about this situation.

"So I don't know what Jimmy -- maybe the guy is so focused. We never talked about it, I never brought it up," the former coach said. I never sat in a coaches meeting and said 'what are we going to do about Larkins Hall' (the physical education building where the wrestlers practiced and showered).

"Maybe Jim never saw it. Another assistant can't recall a situation, so it's everybody's perception," Hellickson said. "I sure dealt with it every day but I can't get into their minds. I can't speak for someone else. In Jimmy's mind, maybe he didn't see it. He was the most disciplined man I've ever known."

Former OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato said he was groped by Strauss dozens of times and that Jordan knew about the allegations of sexual abuse by the doctor.

"Again, I don't -- I don't think Jim and/or a lot of folks, coaches, administrators, really understood that, you know, touching a man's genitals without the need to do so is the definition -- is a definition of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Again, in the mid-'80s, that -- that term wasn't necessarily used," DiSabato told CNN. "However, to now say -- to now know that the word does apply to what was happening to us at the time is just -- is -- is -- is just -- it's surprising to me given the fact that Jim has -- this isn't the Jim Jordan I know."

DiSabato sent a letter to Ohio State last month requesting a meeting with university representatives to discuss a negotiated settlement with alleged victims. In the letter, DiSabato said he and others are looking for closure.

The Ohio State University confirmed it received the letter June 26 and said it has no further comment.

Jordan, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, is not mentioned in the letter.

Hellickson said he struggles to understand public frustration with Jordan's recent denials.

"Considering the love and admiration and respect they had for him at the time, no. If these are the guys who feel they've been violated, then maybe I understand," Hellickson added.

"This thing is agonizing because I care about all these guys."

Hellickson coached at Ohio State from the 1987 season to 2006.

Two former wrestlers told CNN they don't think Jordan knew about Strauss and they also defended the former coach's character.

"Knowing that that happened, I just don't see him not doing anything if he knew," said George Pardos, an OSU wrestler from 1988 to 1993.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 681613

Reported Deaths: 8076
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1403921855
Ramsey58542944
Dakota52093497
Anoka48037479
Washington30637309
Stearns24839240
St. Louis20269335
Scott19626145
Wright18499163
Olmsted15792110
Sherburne13522100
Carver1206952
Clay915295
Rice9104120
Blue Earth866347
Crow Wing7797102
Kandiyohi744188
Chisago711658
Otter Tail666691
Benton6439101
Mower558038
Winona554452
Goodhue550080
Douglas535484
Itasca516671
Beltrami504672
McLeod501463
Steele500921
Isanti490170
Morrison467563
Nobles448650
Becker434559
Polk433675
Freeborn429538
Lyon394254
Carlton389559
Nicollet377647
Pine373726
Mille Lacs354360
Brown346443
Cass343035
Le Sueur340829
Todd321734
Meeker304749
Waseca288625
Martin261933
Wabasha24334
Dodge24064
Hubbard232241
Roseau231723
Houston203816
Renville199548
Redwood198242
Fillmore194710
Pennington190221
Wadena185126
Faribault179725
Cottonwood176624
Sibley175810
Chippewa171239
Kanabec164129
Aitkin155038
Watonwan155011
Rock138519
Jackson134712
Pope13058
Yellow Medicine125120
Pipestone125026
Swift117119
Koochiching116519
Murray115110
Stevens112211
Marshall103518
Clearwater101918
Lake91021
Wilkin89614
Lac qui Parle84824
Big Stone6814
Mahnomen6819
Grant6718
Lincoln6524
Norman6509
Kittson53322
Unassigned51593
Red Lake4777
Traverse4215
Lake of the Woods3884
Cook2120

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 432122

Reported Deaths: 6339
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk67341672
Linn25698353
Scott22828261
Black Hawk19121334
Woodbury16940233
Johnson1659690
Dubuque14547218
Pottawattamie13058183
Dallas12746102
Story1187148
Warren685993
Webster6304102
Cerro Gordo6212102
Clinton620097
Des Moines594482
Muscatine5781108
Unassigned57410
Marshall564280
Sioux542775
Jasper516575
Lee511078
Wapello4993128
Buena Vista472942
Marion449083
Plymouth434083
Henry339940
Jones331158
Bremer325365
Crawford321644
Carroll317053
Washington315754
Benton312656
Boone308736
Mahaska275453
Dickinson270846
Kossuth251471
Jackson246044
Clay245729
Tama238273
Delaware234643
Buchanan233938
Hardin230847
Page221624
Cedar220525
Fayette220345
Wright217641
Winneshiek215937
Hamilton211752
Harrison198875
Clayton194458
Madison193820
Butler188836
Floyd187742
Mills185224
Poweshiek181036
Cherokee179440
Iowa176425
Allamakee176252
Lyon174441
Jefferson169138
Calhoun168313
Hancock167335
Winnebago164231
Grundy158835
Cass155556
Louisa154949
Shelby151739
Appanoose151249
Emmet149541
Franklin148524
Humboldt147226
Sac144722
Union144237
Mitchell141643
Guthrie138132
Chickasaw137518
Palo Alto131124
Clarke125024
Montgomery122239
Keokuk116232
Howard115622
Monroe114033
Ida107538
Davis103125
Pocahontas99023
Greene98012
Adair95334
Monona94733
Lucas94523
Worth9268
Osceola83717
Decatur74510
Fremont74111
Taylor72412
Van Buren70919
Wayne65123
Ringgold62226
Audubon58414
Adams3914
Rochester
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 59°
Mason City
Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 58°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 57°
Austin
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 59°
Charles City
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 59°
Sunny and cooler on Tuesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events