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Ohio lawmaker wants to slap Rep. Jim Jordan with a subpoena

State Rep. Tavia Galonski wants to grill Jordan about the Ohio State sex abuse scandal.
Image: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions Robert Mueller during his testimony to Congress on July 24, 2019.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions Robert Mueller during his testimony to Congress on July 24, 2019.Andrew Harnik / AP

An Ohio lawmaker is seeking to compel powerful Republican Rep. Jim Jordan to testify under oath about whether he was aware that the wrestlers he coached at Ohio State University were being sexually abused by the team doctor.

State Rep. Tavia Galonski said she intends to ask the chair of the committee she sits on to subpoena Jordan, who has repeatedly denied having any knowledge that Dr. Richard Strauss preyed on athletes when he was the assistant wrestling coach at the school from 1986 to 1994.

“What did you know and when did you know it,” Galonski said, when asked what she would ask Jordan, who is also from Ohio. “He hasn’t been accused of anything criminal, but he’s been accused of failing to act. I view it as a chance for him to clear his name.”

Image: Tavia Galonski
Rep. Tavia Galonski speaks on the House floor in support of House Bill 8, which will make foster caregiver training more accessible in Ohio.Ohio House of Reps

A Democrat from Akron, Galonski surprised her Republican colleagues on Tuesday when she made her first motion to subpoena Jordan during a legislative hearing to discuss House Bill 249, which would allow Strauss victims to sue Ohio State for damages. The committee chair, Republican State Rep. Stephen Hambley, ruled her motion was out of order for procedural reasons.

Galonski said she intends to try again when the committee meets next week.

“Obviously a subpoena is like salt. You use it sparingly,” said Galonski, a lawyer who served as a magistrate in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas before she was elected in 2017. “But I don’t believe Congressman Jordan would come forward on his own.”

Galonski added that she has great respect for Hambley and that her quest to question Jordan is not motivated by partisan politics. She said she doesn’t recall ever meeting the congressman.

“It is our duty to the victims to make sure the record is complete before we vote on this bill,” she said. “We’re doing real business here and shouldn’t we want a professional approach? (Jordan’s) name has been mentioned. The chair is a very thoughtful person. I believe (Hambley) would be supportive of that kind of due process.”

NBC News has reached out to Hambley and to Jordan’s spokesman Ian Fury for a response.

The Strauss investigation was launched 17 months ago after a whistleblowing former OSU wrestler named Mike DiSabato came forward and said he was victimized by Strauss. Hundreds more athletes came forward after that.

The probe gained national attention in July 2018 when DiSabato and several other former Ohio State wrestlers told NBC News that Jordan turned a blind eye to what Strauss was doing.

Jordan insisted he had not even heard any locker room talk about the abuse.

But an independent investigation conducted by law firm Perkins Coie concluded in May, based on “survivor accounts,” that coaches and administrators at Ohio State did indeed know that Strauss was molesting male athletes and failed to sound the alarm or stop him. The report did not specifically name any of the coaches or administrators. It said Strauss abused at least 177 men between 1979 and 1997.

Jordan, via Fury, insisted the report absolved him. He cited as proof a line in the report which states that investigators "did not identify any other contemporaneous documentary evidence indicating that members of the OSU coaching staff, including head coaches or assistant coaches, received or were aware of complaints regarding Strauss' sexual misconduct."

The Perkins Coie investigators, however, said in the report they relied largely on "survivor accounts" which they corroborated as best they could with "contemporaneous records" and interviews with university staffers.

"With rare exceptions, we found the survivor accounts, concerning their experiences with Strauss to be both highly credible and cross-corroborative," the report states. "Many, if not most, of the men who contacted us did so with great hesitation."