The head wrestling coach that Rep. Jim Jordan worked for at Ohio State University allegedly sent text messages to former wrestlers urging them to issue statements of support for Jordan, according to NBC News.
Jordan has been accused by some former wrestlers of ignoring sexual abuse by former team doctor Richard Strauss in the 1980s and 1990s. Russ Hellickson was the head coach at the time.
“[Hellickson] called me after the story broke, too,” former OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato told NBC News. “He said [Jim Jordan] was telling him he had to make a statement supporting him and he called to tell me why he was going to make it.”
What did the texts say?
Dunyasha Yetts, who wrestled for Hellickson and Jordan, released text messages Hellickson allegedly sent him.
“If you think 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,” one of the texts read. “I can put you in contact with someone who would release it. It might make you feel better?”
In another text, Hellickson allegedly told Yetts “Do not talk to any media. People will call you to convince you I said to talk. No no no.”
Yetts said Hellickson told him during a call that Jordan was pressuring him to get statements defending Jordan against the allegations.
DiSabato reportedly shared a text message from Hellickson with NBC News, but requested that the network not directly quote it. DiSabato was the wrestler who first publicized Strauss’s alleged abuse and claimed Jordan knew about it.
What’s the background?
At least six former wrestlers have said Jordan had direct knowledge that Strauss molested wrestlers. Athletes from numerous other sports at Ohio State also reported abuse by Strauss.
Hellickson’s role in this has been muddled. Before Jordan was publicly involved in the story, he was recorded on a video by DiSabato talking about “lewd behavior” he witnessed in the facilities, and saying he confronted Strauss about his behavior around the wrestlers.
However, not long after the alleged texts to the wrestlers, Hellickson was part of a joint statement fully backing up Jordan’s claim that he knew nothing about the abuse.