A former Ohio State University student-athlete is speaking out against Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid for House speaker, saying Jordan “turned a blind eye” to allegations of abuse against a team doctor during his time as assistant coach for the university’s wrestling team.
Rocky Ratliff is now an attorney who also represents several other former OSU wrestlers in an ongoing lawsuit against the university.
“I think the wrestlers that I represent, not one of us, would back him for such a leadership position,” Ratliff told ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis.
He continued, “He’s abandoned us for his own selfish reasons when he could have helped us. He’s chosen not to. So that is not the good makings of any type of leadership or any type of leader that he would have put up with at Ohio State. It’s just not. None of us wrestlers believe he should get that position.”
A spokesperson for Jordan, R-Ohio, told ABC News, “Chairman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it.”
The allegations of abuse were against Dr. Richard Strauss, an Ohio State team doctor and sports medicine researcher. Strauss is accused of sexually abusing at least 177 men over an 18-year period from 1979 to 1997 — nearly his entire time at Ohio State, according to an independent report released in 2019.
Investigators determined that university officials ignored nearly two decades of accusations of sexual abuse against Strauss, who killed himself in 2006 at age 67, seven years after retiring from the university.
The accusations of abuse involved athletes from at least 16 sports including wrestling, hockey and swimming, and included Strauss’ work at the student health center and an off-campus clinic that he founded late in his tenure, according to the report.
The university removed Strauss as a school physician in 1996 after a flurry of student complaints and reported his actions to the State Medical Board of Ohio. However, the school allowed Strauss to retain his tenured faculty position while he operated an off-campus clinic, where the report says he continued to abuse students.
Ohio State University has since admitted that it failed to protect students from Strauss, paying out $60 million in settlements to some 296 victims.
Jordan, who was an assistant coach on the team from 1986 to 1994, came under fire in 2018 when several former OSU wrestlers took their allegations against Strauss to the media and claimed Jordan was aware of Strauss’ inappropriate behavior and failed to report it. The university then announced it was opening an investigation into the allegations against Strauss.
Jordan also denied knowing about the abuse when the allegations first came out in 2018.
Jordan is now facing renewed scrutiny amid the ongoing battle for House speaker. After again failing to receive enough GOP support, the congressman and chair of the House Judiciary Committee was defeated a second time after a vote on Wednesday afternoon.
“We believe very strongly, especially all the wrestlers that were there at the time, that Jim Jordan knew what was going on,” Ratliff said on Wednesday.
Ratliff continued, “Jordan should come forward and tell the truth about what happened. At least meet with the guys. He’s failed to do that — to hear our side, he’s failed. You know, even if you believe what Jim Jordan says, he has never once reached out to any wrestler to say, ‘Hey, I missed it. I’m sorry. How are you feeling?'”
Source: ABC News