Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan denied accusations that he looked the other way on sexual abuse while a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
“It’s false,” he told Fox News on Friday. “I mean I never saw, never heard of, never was told about any type of abuse. If I had been, I would have dealt with it.”
Jordan was once assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, and following an NBC News report this week detailing accusations that he did not act as the team doctor, Richard Strauss, allegedly abused students, he has faced a wave of questions about whether he did in fact ignore abuse. In the interview Friday, Jordan said his accusers were intentionally misrepresenting him.
“I know they know what they’re saying is not accurate,” he said.
Jordan repeatedly denied having any knowledge of sexual abuse while he was at Ohio State and distinguished between “conversations in a locker room” and “allegations of abuse or reported abuse.”
Asked what was driving his accusers, Jordan said that “you’d have to ask them,” but suggested political motivations could be at play, including his contentious exchange with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the race to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“I think the timing is suspect from when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein interview, or hearing, with this whole talk about the speaker’s race, but it is just not accurate,” Jordan said.
He took issue in particular with one of his accusers, Michael DiSabato, railing against DiSabato’s character and criticizing the media, including CNN, for airing his accusations.
“Mike DiSabato has a vendetta against Ohio State,” Jordan said.
DiSabato, a former Ohio State wrestler alleging abuse by the doctor, previously told CNN that Jordan “knew it all.”
“His (Jordan’s) locker was located next to Doc Strauss. It was a common uncomfortable joke that Doc was a serial groper,” DiSabato said. “Doc likes to hold your penis. Everyone knew it.”
Jordan had addressed the reports prior to Friday’s interview, saying he “never knew of any abuse” from the doctor.
He said in the Fox interview on Friday that his next step would be “to get the truth out” and that he anticipated speaking with those investigating the alleged abuse next week.
“If in fact there are victims, they deserve justice,” Jordan said. “There’s an investigation going on. We’re going to, I think, meet with them next week.”
Jordan is a prominent member of the House Freedom Caucus, a key conservative group that holds sway within the chamber. President Donald Trump vouched for Jordan on Thursday, calling his congressional ally “one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington.”
“No question in my mind,” Trump said. “I believe Jim Jordan 100%.”
CNN’s Sunlen Serfaty and Clare Foran contributed to this report.