BREAKING NEWS Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Covid-19 has been approved in the US Full Story

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 3:55 AM
Updated: Jul 12, 2018 3:57 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.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3559311

Reported Deaths: 51794
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118923221241
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2860772783
Orange2607213982
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1102371777
Kern102627811
Fresno950151422
Sacramento929611464
Alameda802791241
Ventura77395834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55887946
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38872515
San Francisco34138398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano30024164
Merced28915395
Sonoma28004298
Imperial26855589
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15414209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12787185
Shasta10969174
Butte10922160
El Dorado9095100
Napa899869
Sutter884597
San Benito575259
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada394074
Mendocino379643
Amador344841
Humboldt318033
Lake314140
Glenn221923
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 63°
Oroville
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 63°
Chico
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 63°
Red Bluff
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 65°
Red Bluff
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 64°
Chico
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 63°
It was a bright and breezy Friday for northern California, however the wind has been much stronger over Modoc County where a High Wind Warning is in effect through this evening. Stronger wind and cooler air will define our weather Saturday.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events