by Chuck Ross
A former Ohio State University wrestler is recanting his claims that Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan knew of sexual abuse allegations against a university physician when he coached wrestling at the school over 20 years ago.
“At no time did I ever say or have any direct knowledge that Jim Jordan knew of Dr. Richard Strauss’s inappropriate behavior,” Mark Coleman, a former MMA fighter who wrestled at Ohio State when Jordan coached there, said in a statement.
“I have nothing but respect for Jim Jordan as I have known him for more than 30 years and know him to be of impeccable character.”
Coleman is the first former OSU wrestler to recant his claims that Jordan knew about sexual abuse at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss, an OSU physician accused of molesting dozens of student-athletes.
Jordan, who was an assistant coach at OSU from 1986 to 1994, was first linked to the allegations against Strauss in an NBC News article published July 3. A former wrestler named Mike DiSabato led the push to accuse Jordan of turning a blind eye to Strauss’s behavior.
Jordan, who is mounting a bid for Speaker of the House, has vehemently denied knowing about Strauss’s actions. He has said that he would have taken action had he known about them. OSU is conducting an investigation into Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005.
Coleman, DiSabato and six other former wrestlers said Jordan must have known about the allegations because they were a topic of frequent conversation in the OSU wrestling program. Wrestlers and other athletes claimed Strauss would fondle them during physical examinations.
Coleman told The Wall Street Journal on July 5 that he believed Jordan knew about Strauss’s behavior.
“There’s no way unless he’s got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State,” he said.
“I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I’m concerned.”
Coleman is also distancing himself from DiSabato, a sports marketing executive who has sued Ohio State University in the past.
“Mike DiSabato and his PR representative have released information and made statements publicly without my authorization and, in my opinion, are using them to exploit and embarrass The Ohio State University,” Coleman said in his statement.
“I am distancing myself from Mike DiSabato as he is not my manager and does not speak for me. I am also disappointed with many of the public statements made by Mr. DiSabato and his personal attacks on individuals employed by the university and others.”
Though Coleman is backtracking from his claims against Jordan, he maintains that he was a victim of Strauss’s.
“I was a victim of Dr. Strauss and like many others, I wish to cooperate with the investigation to see that whatever justice is available is achieved,” he said.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Chuck on Twitter.