Feds open investigation into ex-Ohio State wrestling doctor

The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into whether Ohio State University officials responded "promptly and equitably" to complaints from wrestlers and other athletes that the team doctor had molested them.

Among other things, the department's Office for Civil Rights will investigate the university's response to "allegations that employees knew or should have know about the sexual misconduct and allowed the abuse to continue," according to a release from the university on Thursday.

The development comes four months after Ohio State, prompted by complaints from wrestlers who said that they were molested by Dr. Richard Strauss, began its own investigation into the allegations from more than two decades ago.

(A 1978 employment application for Dr. Richard Strauss, from Ohio State University personnel files. Ohio State University via AP file)

"We welcome the involvement and careful oversight of OCR and look forward to providing any information we can," Gates Garrity-Rokous, vice president and chief compliance officer for Ohio State, said in the release.

"We responded promptly and appropriately to the allegations received in April about Dr. Strauss. We are confident in the independence and thoroughness of the investigation we launched then as well as our ongoing commitment to transparency."

Strauss killed himself in 2005. His relatives previously released a statement saying they were "shocked and saddened" by the allegations.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994, is among the former staff members who have been accused by some former athletes of turning a blind eye to the alleged abuse by Strauss. Six former Ohio State wrestlers interviewed by NBC News have said they believe Jordan must have known about the alleged abuse. One said he had told Jordan about it directly, and his account was corroborated by another wrestler.

18 PHOTOS
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
See Gallery
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbour, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) questions FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks at a news conference with 10 other Republican members of Congress announcing their introduction of a U.S. House resolution alleging misconduct in the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation and requesting the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the law enforcement probes into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) arrives ahead of FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbour, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) talks with House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (L) on the floor prior to the start of the election for the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the House Chamber in Washington October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) (L), and Jim Jordan (R-OH) listen to FBI Director Christopher Wray U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify during a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on oversight of FBI and DOJ actions surrounding the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. While scheduled to discuss the Justice Department Inspector general report released this month on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Republicans were expected to use the opportunity to press for release of documents subpoenaed by the committee that detail FBI actions in 2016. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Members of the House Freedom Caucus (L-R) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) arrive for a House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol December 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 06: Members of the House Freedom Caucus, (L-R) Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) participate in a Politico Playbook Breakfast interview at the W Hotel on April 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 15: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during the House Freedom Caucus news conference on Affordable Care Act replacement legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 29: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, talks with reporters after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on November 29, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 4: House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a live television broadcast on Capitol Hill, December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House voted to formally send their tax reform bill to a joint conference committee with the Senate, where they will try to merge the two bills. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES ? MARCH 27: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ind., speaks during the Republican Study Committee news conference to unveil a FY2013 budget proposal on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 26: From left, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, arrive for the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: (L-R), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) confer with each other during a House Oversight Committee hearing entitled 'Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions,' in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is continuing to lead the GOP investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, assaults that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference introducing H.R.4262, 'The Control America's Purse-strings to Deliver a Better Tomorrow (CAP the DEBT) Act' on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Jordan has denied any knowledge of the allegations against Strauss. Jordan has said he didn't even hear any locker room talk about the doctor.

Other wrestlers, including two who spoke to NBC News, have said they believe that Jordan did not know about it.

Jordan's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Perkins Coie, the law firm hired by Ohio State to conduct its independent investigation into the allegations against Strauss, is expected to provide university trustees with an update this month.

The Education Department's Office of Civil Rights oversees the enforcement of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in education programs or activities that receive financial assistance from the U.S. government.

Read Full Story