A former Ohio State University wrestling coach asked two of Rep. Jim Jordan’s accusers to recant their statements, NBC News reported Wednesday night, in a development that could further complicate the Ohio Republican’s long-shot bid to become House speaker.
Retired coach Russ Hellickson contacted the former wrestlers on July 4, one day after they went public with accusations that Jordan knew about alleged sexual abuse of wrestlers at the school by team doctor Richard Strauss three decades ago and did not act, according to the report.
“If you think the story got told wrong about Jim, you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about,” NBC News quotes Hellickson writing in a text to one of the wrestlers, Dunyasha Yetts. “I can put you in contact with someone who would release it.”
Another wrestler, Mike DiSabato, also received a text from Hellickson, according to the report.
Jordan’s spokesman, Ian Fury, did not immediately respond when asked via email whether Jordan had requested that Hellickson contact the wrestlers and urge them to recant.
Jordan worked for Ohio State’s athletic department from 1987 to 1995. Over the past month, several former wrestlers have said that he was in the locker room when team members discussed alleged misconduct by Strauss; one has said he told Jordan directly that Strauss touched him inappropriately during appointments.
Jordan denies that he witnessed, heard or knew about any sexual misbehavior by Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. The law firm Perkins Coie has interviewed Jordan as part of its independent investigation of the abuse allegations.
Top Republicans, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike ence and retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, have defended Jordan.
As questions continued to swirl regarding his actions in the case, Jordan announced last week that he is running for House speaker, in a challenge to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is considered Ryan’s preferred candidate in the race.
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