A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was then the assistant coach.
“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan's response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.
John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss, who was found by independent investigators to have sexually abused 177 male students over two decades.
Jordan, a powerful Republican congressman and a top defender of President Donald Trump in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, has repeatedly denied knowing anything about what Strauss did to the wrestlers he helped coach from 1986 to 1994. He has said the allegations against him were politically motivated.
John Doe 42 said that when he informed Jordan and Hellickson about what happened, their response was, “Yeah, yeah, we know.”
“It was common knowledge what Strauss was doing so the attitude was it is what it is,” he told NBC News. “I wish Jim, and Russ, too, would stand up and do the right thing and admit they knew what Strauss was doing, because everybody knew what he was doing to the wrestlers. What was a shock to me is that Strauss tried to do that to me. He was breaking new ground by going after a ref.”
Former Ohio State wrestler Dunyasha Yetts was the first person to say he spoke to Jordan directly about Strauss. He previously described how he went to see Strauss for a thumb injury, and when the doctor tried to pull down his pants, he stormed out and complained to Jordan and Hellickson.
“It’s good that people are starting to come forward and say the truth, which is that Jordan and the other coaches knew what was going on and they blew it off,” Yetts told NBC News.
Other former Ohio State wrestlers have said Jordan had to know about Strauss because he shared a locker room with them and took part in discussions about the doctor, who died in 2005.
Jordan’s spokesman, Ian Fury, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Republican lawmakers, from left, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ranking member of the Committee on Oversight Reform, and Rep. Lee Zeldin R-N.Y., appear before members of the media outside a closed door meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testifies before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaves a closed door area where the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump are conducted on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Jim Jordan (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
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)
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The lawsuit was filed by 43 survivors against Ohio State, claiming the university's “ingrained culture of institutional indifference” enabled Strauss to sexually abuse former students and athletes from a half-dozen other sports.
It cites instances of Strauss “drugging and raping athletes” and said Strauss preyed on underage boys who participated in athletic events on the campus.
One of the underage victims, identified as John Doe 49, said in the court papers he was 14 or 15 years old and participating in an OSU wrestling camp lead by Hellickson when he went to see Strauss for an ingrown toenail. He claims Strauss had him drop his pants, threatened him with a scalpel and was sexually abused after he fainted in fear.
John Doe 49 said Hellickson questioned him after he found out what Strauss allegedly did to him from other camp participants.
“OK, I’ll take care of it,” Hellickson said, according to the court papers. “Get back to your mat.”
Hellickson did not return a call for comment.
Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said Thursday that the university "has led the effort to investigate and expose the misdeeds of Richard Strauss and the systemic failures to respond, and the university is committed to a fair resolution.
"The university is actively participating in good faith in the mediation process directed by the federal court," Johnson continued. "In addition, since February, Ohio State has been covering the cost of professionally certified counseling services and treatment for anyone affected, as well as reimbursing costs for counseling already received."
An investigation commissioned by the university and conducted by the Perkins Coie law firm found that what Strauss was doing was an “open secret” and that the coaches and administrators at Ohio State knew for two decades that the doctor was abusing students but failed to stop him, according to a report released in May.