GOP Rep. Jim Jordan's allies are reportedly citing Joe Paterno as they digest his wrestling abuse scandal

Rep. Jim Jordan
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

At least seven former Ohio State University wrestlers have said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) knew about sexual abuse by the team doctor when he was an assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995 but failed to do anything about it. The doctor, Richard Strauss, died by suicide in 2015. OSU is investigating the allegations against Strauss from athletes in 14 sports.

Jordan has denied knowing about the alleged abuse, though he clarified on Fox News Friday that "conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse." He has his defenders, among them President Trump, Supreme Court spouse Ginny Thomas, a group of former OSU wrestling coaches, and fellow House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who said Monday that accusations "don't pass the smell test. ... Unlike the Olympians who were minor children at the time they were abused, these former wrestlers were adults at the time they claim they were sexually abused by the Ohio State team doctor."

Other members of the Freedom Caucus are more "uncomfortable" with the allegations that Jordan turned a blind eye, and they're "taking a wait-and-see approach," a Republican familiar with their thinking told CNN Monday. Jordan's Freedom Caucus colleagues view him as a "good man who was probably just in a bad situation," the source added, but "it was expressed to me by one member that after Joe Paterno, you never want to go too deep in defending somebody, because you can have somebody who was just almost seen as an otherworldly figure of integrity and then you find out that 'Wow, he really did know more than we thought he did. He really didn't do what he should have done.'"

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Even some of Jordan's wrestler defenders suggest he isn't being honest and say the "locker room talk" should have raised some red flags, even if he was young and didn't see them at the time.

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