Former Ohio State University wrestler Mike DiSabato told CNN on Wednesday that he was absolutely certain that Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan — who was a young assistant wrestling coach at the time — was aware of the “deviant sexual atmosphere” that DiSabato and others are alleging was fostered by Dr. Richard Strauss at the university. (RELATED: Report: Jim Jordan Under Fire For Allegedly Not Stopping Team Doctor From Molesting Wrestlers)
DiSabato, on CNN’s “New Day” with John Berman, was responding to a statement sent from Rep. Jordan’s office to NBC News stating that the congressman was never aware of any abuse.
Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State.
Berman asked DiSabato several times whether he remembered any specific conversations with Jordan regarding the alleged abuse, but his responses were difficult to nail down. “I know Jim knew about what I call the deviant sexual atmosphere we were exposed to … We all had conversations,” he said.
When pressed further, he continued, “it was something that we would discuss on a regular basis, mainly with nervous banter, locker room banter … We had multiple conversations, I’m not the only person who had conversations with — again, it was something that we’d be in the locker room, there’s 40 guys in our locker room and doc was in the locker room. He had his own locker. It was impossible for anyone during that time to not know that this guy was at best a groper. I don’t think the word abuse was used by athletes at the time, sexual abuse.”
Then DiSabato, who said that he had remained in touch with Jordan over the years and considered him a friend, argued that the Freedom Caucus leader may have been “playing semantics.”
“Again, it’s just not true and I think the congressman may be playing semantics with the word. I don’t think Jim and/or a lot of folks, coaches, administrators, really understood that touching a man’s genitals without the need to do so is the definition, is a definition of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
Again, in the mid-80s that term wasn’t necessarily used. However to now say, to now know that the word does apply to what was happening to us at the time is just — it’s surprising to me given the fact that Jim has — this isn’t the Jim Jordan I know.”
DiSabato went on to say that the investigation was ongoing, and may impact over a thousand athletes across 15 sports.