Lead Jim Jordan defender contradicts self on tape

CNN reports that a number of former Ohio State coaches, including former head coach Russ Hellickson, have come to the defense of embattled GOP Rep. Jim Jordan — who is facing allegations that he knew of serial abuse of his students, while working as a wrestling coach, and did nothing about it — claiming they never heard about any problems the kids were having with the team doctor.

There’s a problem with this claim: The head coach has already reportedly admitted on tape to hearing disturbing reports about the doctor.

First, here is the coaches’ new denial of having any inkling of problems with the team doctor:

“What has been said about Jim Jordan is absolutely wrong. We all worked on the wrestling coaching staff during Jim’s tenure at The Ohio State University. 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,” said the statement, signed by former head coach Russ Hellickson and former assistant coaches Dave Ruckman, Rex Holman, Ken Chertow, Myron Kharchilava and Kenny Ramsey Jr.

“At no time while Jim Jordan was a coach with me at Ohio State did either of us ignore abuse of our wrestlers,” Hellickson added.

Note that head coach Hellickson is one of the signatories of that denial. This seems to flatly contradict a video Hellickson reportedly made a few months ago in which he makes clear he heard more than enough to scold the doctor for his behavior. Also from an earlier CNN story:

A former Ohio State University wrestling coach says he warned a team doctor — whose alleged actions are the subject of a school investigation into sexual abuse allegations — that the doctor was “too hands on” with student athletes, according to a video produced last month by a former student wrestler who says he was abused….

In the video, former head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson, who arrived at Ohio State in 1986, doesn’t specify whether athletes came to him with allegations of abuse, but says he talked to the doctor about physical contact with the wrestlers.

“I told him one time, I said, ‘Doctor you’re much too hands on,’ and he just said, ‘Oh, I’m being thorough,’ ” Hellickson said.

Hellickson also says in the video that the doctor would often shower at the same time as the wrestlers, making them uncomfortable.

….

In the video, Hellickson says he confronted Strauss about taking showers with the student athletes, and told the doctor he was making the wrestlers nervous. The physician reportedly pointed out to the coach that Hellickson also showered with the team.

“I said, ‘Yeah. Not for an hour, doc,’ ” the former coach says.

And it get worse for Hellickson. There is now a second wrestler who has stepped forward to say that Hellickson knew about the abuse, and even intervened to help.

Someone appears too cute by half.

If Hellickson had never heard or seen anything wrong with the doctor’s behavior towards the students, then why did Hellickson tell the doctor “you’re much too hands on,” and complain to the doctor about his hour-long showering making the students uncomfortable? If there were nothing wrong, then Hellickson wouldn’t have spoken to the doctor about it.

It seems as though Hellickson, the other coaches, and perhaps Jordan himself may be trying to parse words: They hadn’t “heard of abuse,” rather they were aware of student claims that the doctor would fondle their genitals and then shower with them for an hour. How are those two things different? What constitutes abuse if not the serial fondling of teenage boys’ genitals?

This defense sounds similar to Jordan’s claim that hearing of the abuse from students in the locker room does not constitute “a report of abuse,” because somehow the venue, a locker room, makes the report unserious. There seems to be a lot of parsing of words for people who claim to be innocent.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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