In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Ohio, a wrestling referee said deceased doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him while showering after a 1994 match at Ohio State University, and he reported it to then-assistant coach Jim Jordan.
Jordan is now a powerful congressman and has denied knowing anything about the numerous reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by Strauss during his tenure as a physician for the university athletes from 1986 to 1994.
Strauss passed away in 2005.
The lawsuit was filed by 43 individuals who say they were victims of Strauss’ abuse. The filing cites episodes of Strauss “drugging and raping athletes,” including underage boys who took part in athletic events at the university.
The referee, identified as John Doe 42, says both Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson didn’t seem surprised when he told them about the encounter in the showers with the doctor.
“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson told Doe, reports NBC News. “Yeah, yeah, we know.”
“It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing, so the attitude was it is what it is,” John Doe 42 told NBC News. “I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers.”
“What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me,” added the referee. “He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”
Another of the victims, identified at John Doe 49, said Strauss told him to take off his pants when he went to see the doctor about an ingrown toenail during a wrestling camp. John Doe 49 says he was 14 or 15 years old at the time, and the physician threatened him with a scalpel before sexually abusing him.
Earlier this year in May, a team of investigators hired by Ohio State University found the doctor had sexually abused “at least 177 male student-patients.”
“We find that University personnel had knowledge of Strauss’ sexually abusive treatment of male student-patients as early as 1979, but the complaints about Strauss’ conduct were not elevated beyond the Athletics Department of Student Health until 1996,” read the report according to NBC News.
The referee is the second person to say they approached Jordan about the physician’s behavior.
Dunyasha Yetts, a former wrestler for Ohio State, has previously shared that the doctor attempted to pull down his pants when he saw Strauss about a thumb injury.
Responding to John Doe 42’s testimony, Yetts told NBC News, “It’s good that people are starting to come forward and say the truth, which is that Jordan and the other coaches knew what was going on and they blew it off.”
Several former Ohio State athletes have shared that Strauss’ behavior was basically an ‘open secret’ among athletes but the coaching staff didn’t seem inclined to take action regarding the allegations.
The story became national news in 2018 when former university wrestler Mike DiSabato came forward to not only accuse Strauss but share that the coaches, including Jordan, turned a blind eye to the behavior.
At the time, DiSabato said, “They knew, they all knew, and they did nothing.”
For his part, Jordan says he didn’t know anything about the alleged behavior.
“I never knew about any type of abuse,” Jordan told Politico last year. “If I did, I would have done something about it. And look, if there are people who are abused, then that’s terrible and we want justice to happen.”