A recently released video reveals that former head coach of the Ohio State University Wrestling team Russ Hellickson knew that Dr. Richard Strauss was sexually abusing wrestlers. Hellickson’s statements were filmed before allegations arose claiming that congressman Jim Jordan knew of the sexual abuse and failed to stop it. More importantly, the video was filmed before Jordan denied these allegations.
Following the multiple allegations against Jordan, he received support from former OSU wrestlers and coaches, Trump, the conservative House Freedom Caucus and even Hellickson himself. Hellickson was one of the multiple coaches and wrestlers who signed an open letter defending Jordan. In the statement, the group said, “None of us saw or heard of abuse of OSU wrestlers. The well-being of student-athletes was all of our concern. If we had heard of any abuse, we would have spoken up.”
However, in a video shown to CNN and other news outlets, but not released to the public, Hellickson admits that he did know about the sexual misconduct and confronted Strauss about it. The video was released by former OSU wrestler Mike DiSabato’s company, Combat Athlete Coalition. The coalition works to represent former college athletes in matters that involve safety issues and compensation. DiSabato said he sent the video to show university officials firsthand accounts of the abuse. Hellickson’s newly revealed statements completely contradict Jordan’s previous denials of the allegations.
In the video, Hellickson doesn’t specify whether the wrestlers told him about the abuse. However, he reveals that Strauss used to shower at the same time as wrestlers, often lingering long enough to make them “uncomfortable.” He also said Strauss fondled the wrestles during weigh-ins. He went on to discuss confronting Strauss, recalling, “I told him one time, I said, ‘Doctor you’re much too hands on,’ and he just said, ‘Oh, I’m being thorough.’” When Hellickson attempted to confront Strauss about the shower situation, Strauss pointed out that Hellickson also showered with the wrestlers. Hellickson responded, “Yeah. Not for an hour, doc.”
Hellickson also indicated that he told his superiors about the sexual abuse. “Certainly, all of my administrators recognized that it was an issue for me,” he said. “I’m sure that I talked to all of them on numerous occasions about my discontent with the environment.” In a phone interview with USA Today on Monday, Hellickson confirmed his statements in the video. His now conflicting statements will not bode well for Jordan, who currently has nine former wrestlers accusing him of turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse.
Jordan has denied the allegations, although he also had a slip-up in a recent interview with Fox News. In the interview, he discusses the wrestlers talking about Strauss in the locker room and said, “Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse. No one ever reported any abuse to me.” However, just a few minutes later in the same interview, he denied ever hearing any locker room talk about Strauss. Despite Jordan’s conservative support system in the Trump administration, multiple conflicting statements are catching up with him.