A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., weighed in Tuesday on an NBC News report that House Freedom Caucus founder Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, allegedly turned his back on wrestlers who said they were sexually abused by an Ohio State University team doctor.
“These are serious allegations and issues. The university has rightfully initiated a full investigation into the matter. The speaker will await the findings of that inquiry,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan.
NBC News reported Tuesday that former Ohio State wrestlers said Jordan ignored sexual abuse that was allegedly committed by the team's doctor, Richard Strauss.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” one wrestler said, according to NBC. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at the school from 1986 to 1994, has denied he had knowledge of abuse.
“Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State,” his spokesman, Ian Fury, said in an email to NBC News.
The university is investigating multiple accusations that Strauss, who died in 2005, molested student athletes during his 1978-1998 tenure at the school.
Jordan, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus and a vocal ally of President Donald Trump, has been mentioned as a potential successor to Ryan as the next speaker of the House if his party fends off a possible Democratic wave in November.
CNBC previously reported that Jordan has quietly been courting lawmakers and allies on Capitol Hill about possibly running for the top leadership role. He’s also publicly acknowledged that his colleagues are encouraging him to run, and he’s open to considering the move.
The NBC report came as Jordan, like most members of Congress, pursues re-election in this fall's midterm elections. Political analysis website Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranks Jordan's district, the Ohio 4th, as safe for Republicans. Jordan's Democratic opponent, Janet Garrett, called for Jordan to cooperate with the university’s ongoing investigation. Garrett lost to Jordan in 2014 and 2016.