WASHINGTON — One of the wrestlers who accused Rep. Jim Jordan of knowing about accusations that a doctor at Ohio State University was sexually abusing members of the wrestling team now says he has no direct knowledge of whether Jordan knew of the abuse.
Mark Coleman, also a former assistant wrestling coach at OSU, said Thursday, in a statement issued through the conservative public-relations firm hired by Jordan’s campaign to respond to the allegations, that he never said that Jordan knew about the abuse more than two decades ago.
“At no time did I ever say or have any direct knowledge that Jim Jordan knew of Dr. Richard Strauss’ inappropriate behavior,” said Coleman. “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.”
Those comments stand in contrast to a report in The Wall Street Journal in July in which he was quoted saying: “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. I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I’m concerned.”
Read our full coverage of Ohio State’s investigation into reports of sexual abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss
Ohio State is investigating allegations that Strauss sexually abused student athletes in 14 sports while at OSU, where he worked from 1978 to 1998. He killed himself in 2005.
Jordan, now a GOP congressman from Urbana who recently announced he is running for House speaker in the next Congress, served as an assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995. He has repeatedly said he was not aware of sexual abuse during his time at the university, and he has been interviewed about the allegations by the law firm investigating them.
Former OSU wrestlers have accused Jordan of knowing about the abuse but not reporting it.
Coleman, who has said in a video circulated by accusers that he was abused, said he wants to cooperate with the investigation.
Coleman also used the press statement to criticize Mike DiSabato, the former OSU wrestler who is leading the charge against Jordan, saying DiSabato and his public-relations representative have “made statements publicly without my authorization.”
“I am distancing myself from Mike DiSabato, as he is not my manager and does not speak for me,” Coleman said. “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.”
NBC News reported last week that retired Ohio State wrestling coach Russ Hellickson asked DiSabato and another former wrestler who had accused Jordan of knowing of the abuse to recant their statements. In screen shots of the texts, Hellickson urged former wrestler Dunyasha Yetts, who had told media outlets he told Jordan about the abuse, to send out a statement “that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about. I can put you in contact with someone who would release it.”
DiSabato did not immediately return a call for comment, and Coleman has never directly confirmed either account with The Dispatch. A representative for the PR firm working with Jordan on the accusations said Coleman wants to let the statement stand for itself.