Former Ohio State University wrestling coach and current US representative Jim Jordan was interviewed by the law firm investigating allegations that a now dead team doctor sexually abused male athletes there decades ago, his spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
The Ohio Republican spoke Monday morning with the firm looking into allegations against Dr Richard Strauss and how the school responded to any complaints about Strauss, said spokesman Ian Fury, who declined to discuss details of the conversation.
“He told them the same things he’s told everybody in the press,” Fury said. “You know, the story stays the same because the truth doesn’t change.”
Jordan has publicly said he was never aware of abuse when he was an assistant coach from 1987 to 1995, and he has repeatedly denied some former wrestlers’ claims that he knew they were inappropriately groped by Strauss.
A watchdog group and a former special counsel to President Barack Obama have sought an ethics review of the influential congressman, who is a founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus and potential contender for House speaker.
A string of former coaching colleagues and ex-athletes have spoken up in defense of Jordan, with some of them also saying they never knew of abuse while at Ohio State. The speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, also defended Jordan, calling him “a man of integrity”.
Jordan had said he would cooperate with investigators and that victims deserve justice if abuse occurred.
The university announced the independent investigation months ago and has said the allegations against Strauss now involve male athletes from 14 sports, as well as Strauss’ work at the student health center and his off-campus medical office.
Former wrestlers this week have filed two federal lawsuits against Ohio state alleging that it ignored concerns raised about sexual abuse by a now-dead team doctor during the two decades he worked there. The lawsuits were brought by a total of five former wrestlers who allege they were victims of sexual misconduct by Strauss.
Both lawsuits seek unspecified monetary damages and propose to represent all Ohio State students mistreated by Strauss.
Ohio State has said the university response to concerns about Strauss is a key focus of the independent investigation.
Former wrestling team captain Dave Mulvin has said he raised concerns to another doctor at the student health center back in the late 1970s after Strauss fondled him during an exam. Mulvin said the other doctor shrugged it off.
Strauss was employed by the university for two decades until he retired in 1998. He killed himself in 2005.
His family has said they were “shocked and saddened” to learn of the allegations and want to know the truth.
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.