Statement by Six Former OSU Coaches Appears to Contradict Previous Reports


by Sharon Rondeau

Photo credit: Pixabay

(Jul. 9, 2018) — A statement attributed to six former Ohio State University (OSU) wrestling coaches issued on Monday claims that none was aware, while employed by the university, that a sports physician was allegedly sexually abusing students.

The accusations against the late Dr. Richard Strauss were widely disseminated last week by major media and named Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, who was an OSU assistant wrestling coach between either 1987 and 1995 or 1986 and 1994, of having been informed about the alleged abuse but doing nothing about it.

Monday’s statement from the six former coaches reads, in part, “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.”

According to The Hill, “The former coaches who issued the statement are: Russ Hellickson, former head coach; Dave Ruckman, former assistant coach; Rex Holman, former assistant coach; Ken Chertow, former assistant coach; Myron Kharchilava, former assistant coach; and Kenny Ramsey Jr., former assistant coach.”

The content of Monday’s declaration appears to contradict, at least on Hellickson’s part, statements attributed to him last week by NBC News and The Dayton Daily News.

According to NBC on July 3, Hellickson “said in a recent video — made by Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler — that Hellickson had told Strauss that he was being too ‘hands on’ with students.”

Also on July 3, The Dayton Daily News reported Hellickson as having said that while a coach, he confronted “people” involved in highly inappropriate activity on campus and that in the “private” video, he said, “Certainly, all of my administrators recognized that it was an issue for me. I’m sure that I talked to all of them on numerous occasions about my discontent with the environment.”

DiSabato’s recent complaints about Strauss reportedly prompted OSU to open its investigation which is at present “administrative,” according to the Ohio attorney general’s office.  The potential for a criminal probe, if evidence is found and falls within the statute of limitations, exists, according to Franklin County, OH prosecuting attorney Ron O’Brien, who left us a message last week.

DiSabato and another unidentified alleged former OSU wrestler both said they thought highly of Jordan yet criticized him, a quarter-century later, for claiming to have had no knowledge of the alleged abuse.  DiSabato went as far as to say that he considered Jordan “a friend,” although emails he reportedly sent to Jordan over the last few months are now reportedly under investigation by the Capitol Police.

The university’s investigation was opened on April 5 but received minimal media attention until last week.  As is stated in a correction at the beginning of the press release and in the URL, Strauss was originally referred to as a “trainer,” not a physician.

Jordan said he found the “timing” of the accusations against him “interesting” given his recent grilling of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a public hearing about the Trump-Russia “collusion” probe and his announced intention to seek the position of Speaker of the House upon Paul Ryan’s retirement in January.

In an interview Friday evening with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Jordan vehemently denied knowing about any of the allegations and said that former coaches were coming to his defense. He additionally revealed that his nephew had been killed in a car accident the night before.

Eli Stickley, 21, was a rising-star wrestler at the University of Wisconsin.

During the interview, Jordan appeared shocked that wrestlers he mentored in college would relate what he said was a completely false story. When Baier asked what the motivation of the now-seven former OSU wrestlers might have been, Jordan said that DiSabato “has a vendetta” against OSU and that he was sued by a Gold Star widow over his handling of a memorial fund he established in the widow’s late husband’s name.

According to Jordan, the Ohio Attorney General’s office forced the closure of the fund.

NBC’s article has been widely quoted without independent verification of its allegations.  CNN, too, mentioned “the video” and reported that it has been viewed by OSU.  “Ohio State University officials are aware of the video and have seen it, according to Associate Vice President for University Communications Chris Davey,” CNN reported on July 5.

An email with questions about Hellickson’s statements, both last week and today, sent to two Ohio reporters who wrote about the issue on July 3 has not received a response as of press time.

To The Post & Email’s knowledge, only one other party has publicly questioned the contradiction between Hellickson’s reported statements in the video and that issued to mainstream media outlets on Monday.  Thus far, no one appears to have asked why the video cannot be released publicly.



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