Speed Reads

a tangled web

Former Ohio State wrestling coach reportedly encouraged Rep. Jim Jordan's accusers to recant

After several former Ohio State wrestlers came forward saying their former assistant coach, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), failed to do anything about alleged sexual abuse by the team doctor, they were contacted by retired Ohio State wrestling coach Russ Hellickson, who urged them to recant, the men told NBC News.

Hellickson texted Dunyasha Yetts and Mike DiSabato, who showed the messages to NBC News. On July 3, NBC News published a report stating that several wrestlers were inappropriately touched by the team doctor, Richard Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005. Yetts said he'd told Jordan that he went to Strauss with a thumb injury, and Strauss tried to pull down his pants. Several wrestlers said Strauss' behavior was discussed often in the locker room and Jordan turned a blind eye to the alleged sexual abuse; Jordan, who served as assistant coach from 1986 to 1994, has denied ever hearing formal abuse accusations.

Hellickson texted and called Yetts on July 4, saying he was under pressure from Jordan and his supporters to make "a bold statement to defend Jimmy," NBC News reports. He also suggested that if Yetts thought "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." Yetts, DiSabato, and three other wrestlers said they respect Hellickson and believe he's been put in a tough spot. "Jordan got some bad advice up front to deny knowing anything and wasn't going to change when he got confronted by wrestlers saying that's not true," one wrestler told NBC News. DiSabato came forward with the allegations against Strauss in April, and an investigation is underway.