Ex-wrestler: 'Baffling' Jordan didn't help us

Former Ohio State wrestler Mike DiSabato, who says he was a victim of sexual abuse at Ohio State University where Rep. Jim Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach, says he begged him to get involved in the investigation. Jordan says he was not aware of the abuse.

Posted: Jul 6, 2018 2:47 AM
Updated: Jul 6, 2018 3:19 AM

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.

The video is the first public indication by any OSU coach that they had concerns about Dr. Richard Strauss, who is deceased, and his interactions with students. Three former students, including two wrestlers, say on the video that Strauss sexually abused them during medical examinations.

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.

It's not known whether Hellickson passed on his concerns to his superiors. CNN has been unsuccessful in multiple attempts to obtain comment from Hellickson.

Strauss died in 2005. He was a physician for the school's sports teams from July 1981 to June 1995. CNN has not been able to reach members of Strauss' family.

The university announced in April that it is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by Strauss. The school has hired a law firm, Perkins Coie, to look into the claims made by former male athletes on 14 sports teams.

More than 150 people have been interviewed during the investigation, which is ongoing, according to Perkins Coie.

Ohio State University officials are aware of the video and have seen it, according to Associate Vice President for University Communications Chris Davey. The school would not comment further.

Claims of sexual abuse

The video was produced in June by former OSU wrester Mike DiSabato's company Combat Athlete Coalition, he told CNN. The company represents the collective interests of former college athletes in matters of compensation and safety issues.

Besides showing Hellickson being interviewed, the video shows DiSabato and two other former OSU students saying Strauss sexually abused them.

DiSabato said the purpose of the video was to provide university officials with firsthand accounts of the alleged abuse, and not just the versions of victims' testimonies that would be relayed by investigators with Perkins Coie, the law firm.

DiSabato said the video was sent to the school and to Perkins Coie.

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.

Hellickson indicates he spoke to officials about the team using a shared shower.

"Certainly, all of my administrators recognized that it was an issue for me," Hellickson says. "I'm sure that I talked to all of them on numerous occasions about my discontent with the environment."

It is unclear whether Hellickson is referring to people in the athletic department or school administrators. He said nothing ever changed.

Intrusive exams

The former coach and the former athletes appear separately in the video, which appears to have been edited.

DiSabato says it was a running joke that no matter what ailment a person asked Strauss to look at, the doctor would always examine his genitals.

One of the other two men, who CNN is not identifying, says on the video that the doctor went beyond the normal health-care practices. CNN has reached out to the two men for comment on the video but has not yet received replies.

He says he went in with heartburn and was told to lie on a table. The doctor eventually removed the man's pants, the man said.

"I'm like, what's going on? He goes, 'Oh I need to check for a few things down here,' " the man says. "And there I am with my pants down, going what the hell is going on?"

The other man says the doctor touched him inappropriately.

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