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Brother of OSU whistleblower said Rep. Jim Jordan asked for support amid allegations he turned a blind eye to sex abuse

Adam DiSabato told lawmakers Jordan was "crying" and "groveling" when he called, "begging me to go against my brother."
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The brother of Ohio State University whistleblower Mike DiSabato told state lawmakers at a public hearing Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan personally pleaded with him to intercede after DiSabato publicly accused Jordan of turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of male wrestlers by team doctor Richard Strauss.

Adam DiSabato, who was a champion wrestler at OSU, told members of the state House Civil Justice Committee that Jordan was in tears when he called on July 4, 2018, a day after NBC News broke the story, according to a video of the committee hearing published on the Ohio public broadcasting website.

"Jim Jordan called me crying, crying, groveling, on the Fourth of July ... begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for half an hour," Adam DiSabato said at the hearing. "That's the kind of cover-up that's going on here."

Jordan, he said, called him repeatedly that week. "I had to have my lawyer call him to tell him to stop calling me," he said.

Ohio State University in Columbus
Ohio State University in Columbus.Angie Wang / AP

Jordan, a powerful Republican and a top defender of President Donald Trump, was an assistant wrestling coach at OSU from 1986 to 1994, a period when the DiSabato brothers wrestled. He declined to comment on Adam DiSabato's allegations.

Mike DiSabato backed his brother, whose testimony came at a hearing to discuss a proposed bill that would create a window to enable Strauss victims to sue Ohio State.

"Truth is a powerful thing, isn't it?" he told NBC News. "And the reason for Jim Jordan's desperation will play out very, very soon."

Adam DiSabato, who had previously said little publicly about the scandal that made his brother a household name in Columbus and roiled the state's most famous university, told the committee that he also asked a former teammate named George Pardos to tell Jordan to stop calling him.

"Call Jim Jordan and tell him to quit calling me or I'm going to beat his ass," Adam DiSabato said he told Pardos. "That's what I said."

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Pardos told NBC News that Adam DiSabato is a friend but that his testimony "is not an accurate description of what happened."

"Jimmy wasn't burning up his phone to get hold of him," Pardos said. "But Adam is a victim, and Ohio State has been very dismissive of the victims, and there is a lot of frustration."

Pardos added that he and Jordan "did not have a good relationship" when he wrestled at Ohio State.

Nevertheless, Pardos is one of several former OSU wrestlers who have spoken out in support of Jordan, who has maintained that he did not even hear locker room talk about what Strauss was alleged to have done to hundreds of athletes.

Asked about Jordan's repeated insistence that he was not aware that Strauss was a sexual predator, Adam DiSabato said, "He's throwing us under the bus."

"He's a coward. He's a coward," he said. "I would never abandon my team."

Adam DiSabato told the committee that Jordan and former head coach Russ Hellickson also pressured other athletes to "flip their story," including another former wrestler named Mark Coleman.

"He called his [Coleman's] parents, 90 years old," Adam DiSabato said. "That's the kind of person Jim Jordan is. Jim Jordan, if I ever see him, he better not come around me."

In a statement in August 2018, Coleman appeared to recant his allegation that Jordan had been aware of the abuse. The statement was released by a conservative group that Jordan hired to help him with the fallout from the allegations lobbed by DiSabato and several other wrestlers.

Coleman could not be reached for comment about Adam DiSabato's allegation, but he is one of the 350 former OSU students who have filed 17 lawsuits against the university. And Coleman spoke about Strauss on a videotape that Mike DiSabato made that spurred an independent investigation.

Image: Richard Strauss
Dr. Richard Strauss in his 1978 employment application from Ohio State University's personnel files.Ohio State University via AP file

That inquiry, conducted by the law firm Perkins Coie, concluded in a report released in May that coaches and athletic administrators knew for two decades that Strauss was molesting male athletes — mostly under the guise of giving physicals — but failed to sound the alarm or stop him. Strauss died by suicide in 2005.

Hellickson also did not immediately respond to an email for comment. But in August 2018, NBC News reported that he had reached out to two ex-team members asking them to support Jordan.

Since the release of the Perkins-Coie report, Ohio State has apologized repeatedly and insisted that it was "actively participating in good faith in the mediation process directed by the federal court." The school has also said it "has led the effort to investigate and expose Richard Strauss' abuse and the university's failure at the time to adequately respond to or prevent it."