Chuck Ross, DCNF
The House Freedom Caucus voted unanimously on Tuesday to support Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan amid allegations that he ignored claims of sexual abuse while he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
“Jim Jordan is a man of integrity, and we believe him and stand with him 100 percent,” reads a statement from the caucus’s Twitter account.
Jordan is a co-founder of the caucus, which consists of conservative and libertarian Republicans.
North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the caucus and a close ally of Jordan’s, told reporters that Jordan has the “unanimous support” of the nearly three dozen Freedom Caucus members. Meadows also said that there were unspecified “motives at play” to take down Jordan.
The show of support comes after 15 former Ohio State wrestlers issued statements on Tuesday denying allegations against Jordan. Six former university coaches, including legendary former head coach Russ Hellickson, defended Jordan in a joint statement on Monday.
Seven former OSU wrestlers have come forward to claim that Jordan was aware of sexual misconduct allegations against an athletic doctor named Richard Strauss. Jordan, a two-time NCAA champion wrestler at the University of Wisconsin, was an assistant coach at OSU from 1987 to 1995.
Jordan has vehemently denied hearing allegations of abuse from his wrestlers and has said that he would have acted to defend the athletes if he had.
The allegations against Jordan have been pushed most aggressively by former OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato. DiSabato and another wrestler Dunyasha Yetts, were quoted in an NBC News article from July 3 that thrust the sexual abuse story onto the national scene.
Five other wrestlers have come forward with claims that they believe Jordan would have known about wrestlers’ complaints about Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.
OSU is investigating the allegations against Strauss.
Jordan and his defenders have questioned the timing of the news stories as well as DiSabato’s motives. Jordan, along with Meadows, has led an aggressive push to force the Justice Department and FBI to turn over documents related to the Russia investigation. He is also reportedly eyeing a run to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, a move which has frayed relations with some moderate House Republicans.
DiSabato has battled with OSU in the past. In 2008, he sued the school after he lost an athletic merchandising deal. DiSabato was also arrested in February and charged with telephonic harassment against an attorney for former NFL star Chris Spielman.
And the widow of a former OSU wrestler and fallen Marine officer named Ray Mendoza has also accused DiSabato of pilfering funds from a charity he set up to honor Mendoza.
“I question the intent, the authenticity, the verity, that Mike DiSabato shares in any of his words or actions,” Karen Mendoza told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Her husband was killed in action in Iraq in 2005. She claims that DiSabato used money he raised on her husband’s behalf to recruit fighters to a mixed-martial arts company he founded.
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