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Former Ohio State wrestler walks back Jim Jordan accusations

There's been a hiccup in the ongoing smear campaign against Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and the media is desperately spinning.

A former Ohio State wrestler who previously said Jordan knew of ongoing sexual abuse at Ohio State University by the wrestling team doctor now says he has no direct knowledge of what Jordan knew and is distancing himself from Jordan's primary accuser, Michael DiSabato.

Mark Coleman released a press statement through a public relations firm hired by Jordan, clarifying comments attributed to him that were "not accurate or were misconstrued by media outlets."

“At no time did I ever say or have any direct knowledge that Jim Jordan knew of Dr. Richard Strauss’s 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.”

Ohio State University is investigating allegations that Strauss, the team doctor for multiple sports teams, sexually abused students throughout his decades-long career. Strauss committed suicide in 2005. Jordan served as an assistant wrestling coach at OSU from 1986 to 1994 at the same time Strauss was employed there. He has unequivocally denied any knowledge of the abuse and has pledged to help investigators in any way he can.

In July, the Wall Street Journal reported comments from Coleman that indicated he believed Jordan knew Strauss was sexually abusing student athletes, but failed to report the abuse. “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," a quote attributed to Coleman said.

In his statement contradicting that quote, Coleman accused DiSabato and his PR representative of misrepresenting him to the press.

“Mike DiSabato and his PR representative have released information and made statements publicly without my authorization and, in my opinion, are using them to exploit and embarrass The Ohio State University,” said Coleman.

“I am distancing myself from Mike DiSabato as he is not my manager and does not speak for me. 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," he added.

DiSabato is Jordan's primary accuser. He has claimed Jordan is lying when he says he knew nothing about Strauss' alleged abuse or that no such abuse was ever reported to him. DiSabato has a troubling history of lawsuits and has a reputation for harassment and intimidation. For example, he once emailed a widow a picture of her deceased husband's killer over a business disagreement.

DiSabato now tells NBC News that Coleman was pressured into releasing the new statement "after Jordan, his brother, high school wrestling coach Jeff Jordan, and former Ohio State team coach Russ Hellickson all called Coleman’s parents." NBC News claims an unnamed former OSU wrestler corroborated DiSabato's claim of pressure placed on Coleman.

But as DiSabato's past actions and reputation demonstrate, he is untrustworthy. NBC News makes no mention of DiSabato's past, continuing to uncritically report his claims and spinning Coleman's clarifying remarks with a headline that reads "Former OSU wrestler who accused Rep. Jim Jordan of ignoring abuse changes story," throwing doubt on Coleman, not DiSabato.

The spin must continue until the smears against Jordan sink his candidacy for House speaker.

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