Ex-athletes: Creepy people, lewd atmosphere at Ohio State
By MARK GILLISPIE, JOHN SEEWER and MITCH STACY
Thursday, July 12
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It was no secret that a team doctor now being investigated for sexually abusing male athletes decades ago at Ohio State University liked to linger in the showers alongside those athletes. But he wasn’t the only one leering at young men inside the campus recreation center where many teams practiced and university employees exercised.
Wrestlers from that era remember men peeking at them over bathroom stalls and through a sauna window, a culture of voyeurism and “cruising” for sex not unheard of in gyms even today. Some say the same men began showering when team practices ended and would touch themselves while watching athletes.
“A gauntlet of sexual deviancy” is what one former wrestler said he and his teammates faced after practice. Another said Larkins Hall, which has since been demolished, was filled with “creepy people.”
Russ Hellickson, the wrestling coach who came to Ohio State in the mid-1980s, says he often caught men having sex in the team’s practice room and a nearby stairwell. His wrestlers complained about the men’s behavior, Hellickson said.
“It became a real problem because it affected the mental state of a lot of our wrestlers,” he said on a video distributed by one of his former team members. “There were times when the athletes themselves would confront people.”
Hellickson, who coached at Ohio State from 1986-2006, said he had numerous conversations with an official in charge of campus recreation and other university administrators. But, he said, nothing changed for years until the team moved to a new training facility near the end of his tenure.
“All of my administrators recognized that it was an issue for me,” he said on the video.
Jim Jordan, who joined Ohio State in 1986 and was assistant coach from 1987 to 1995, is now a powerful Republican congressman.
Jordan has said he knew nothing about lewd behavior at Larkins Hall. He also has denied allegations by former team members that he knew about accusations that the now-dead team doctor, Richard Strauss, sexually abused dozens of student-athletes.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Jordan said faculty, professors and “everyone” could shower at Larkins. “But again, never saw any type of abuse there, and never drug anyone out,” Jordan said.
Independent investigators are reviewing allegations by men from 14 sports about Strauss. While questions remain whether coaches and administrators knew about abuse by Strauss, there’s little doubt the practice facility was an uncomfortable place for athletes.
The allegations that Strauss fondled and groped male athletes during physical examinations and medical treatment date to the 1970s. He retired as a professor in 1998 and later moved to California, where he killed himself in 2005 at age 67.
Ohio State says that more than 150 former athletes and witnesses have been interviewed so far, and that it’s “focused on uncovering what may have happened during this era, what university leaders at the time may have known, and whether any response at the time was appropriate.”
Strauss’ family has said in a statement it learned of the allegations only after news reports surfaced, adding they were “shocked and saddened.”
A handful of former wrestlers now say they think their coaches must have known Strauss was abusing athletes. But others who were on those teams say there’s no way the coaches would have allowed that to happen.
Hellickson, in the video, said he talked to Strauss about the doctor’s habit of showering with wrestlers. In statements, Hellickson has said he did not “ignore abuse of our wrestlers.”
Matt Mynster, a member of the wrestling program from 1986 to 1991, said Strauss would be “the first in and the last out” of the Larkins Hall showers.
He said his teammates joked about how Strauss treated them but avoided any serious discussions about his behavior.
“The more I thought about it, I wouldn’t say it’s sexual assault,” Mynster said. “I don’t know what it is. It’s not right.”
Nick Nutter, who wrestled in the mid-1990s, said men who appeared to be faculty and university employees would show up in the shower area just as practices ended.
“You put your head down, you walk in there, you do your business and you try to get back to the locker room as soon as you can without making eye contact,” he said.
Former Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger said this week he doesn’t remember any complaints about Strauss. But he said he did speak with Hellickson about the coach’s complaint about voyeurism in the showers at Larkins Hall.
The building, initially constructed in the 1930s and expanded over the years, was one of the busiest on Ohio State’s sprawling campus. Numerous students and university employees worked out and played intramural sports leagues at Larkins Hall.
It’s also where the wrestling, gymnastics, fencing and swim teams practiced, and where Strauss spent many hours.
Some former wrestlers have said this week that they never heard about any abuse by Strauss, but either saw or heard about lewd acts in Larkins Hall.
Jude Skove, a wrestler during the early 1980s, called it a bad environment.
“The bathroom stalls overlooked the showers, so you’d see guys peeking over the doors,” he said. “It was pretty gross.”
Gillispie reported from Cleveland, and Seewer reported from Toledo. Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Kantele Franko contributed.
Pelosi says Jordan should have known about wrestlers’ abuse
By ALAN FRAM
Thursday, July 12
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressman from Ohio “should have known” about allegations that college wrestlers he coached two decades ago were abused by their team doctor, the House’s top Democrat said Thursday.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan should cooperate with investigators “rather than deny and dismiss” accusations that he was aware of the problem.
Jordan, a leading House conservative, was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University from 1987 to 1995. Some wrestlers from that period have accused the doctor, Richard Strauss, of inappropriately groping them during medical exams and other incidents, and some of them have said Jordan knew about it at the time.
Jordan has denied knowledge of the problem, and other wrestlers have defended him. Jordan has said he will cooperate with an Ohio State investigation.
Asked about Jordan, Pelosi said that as a lawmaker, Jordan has frequently said, “So and so should have known this, should have known that.” That was an apparent reference to Jordan’s aggressive tactics in House investigations in recent years to subjects including the FBI’s investigation of the connection between Russian election interference and President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 campaign.
“Many people say he did know, and by his own standard, he should have known,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi also said of the wrestlers who have asserted he knew of the problem, “Jim Jordan had a duty to protect them. They say he failed.”
Jordan has been defended in recent days by the House’s top three Republican leaders: Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
McCarthy and Scalise are potential successors to Ryan, who retires in January. Jordan is a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and hasn’t ruled out seeking the top job, but would more likely play a role in swinging conservatives’ votes toward a contender.
Strauss died in 2005 in what was ruled a suicide.
Ethics review sought as ex-coaches at Ohio St. defend Jordan
By KANTELE FRANKO and KEVIN FREKING
Tuesday, July 10
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A watchdog group and a former special counsel to President Barack Obama are seeking an ethics review of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan even as former colleagues back his statements that he didn’t know about sexual abuse of wrestlers while coaching at Ohio State University.
Some ex-wrestlers from the late 1980s and early 1990s say they were groped by team doctor Richard Strauss and that Jordan knew then about the alleged abuse as an assistant coach. Jordan, founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus and potential contender for House speaker, denies that and has said he and other coaches would have reported any alleged abuse brought to their attention.
The group Democracy 21 and former White House ethics lawyer Norman Eisen want to know whether the Ohio Republican made false statements about that. The request Monday to the Office of Congressional Ethics said questions of dishonesty can bring discredit to the House in violation of House rules.
Several former wrestlers have said in recent days that Jordan had to have known of the abuse, based on numerous group conversations at the time.
But on Monday, six former Ohio State wrestling coaches defended Jordan in a joint statement that said none of them was aware of abuse of wrestlers.
“The well-being of student-athletes was all of our concern. If we had heard of any abuse, we would have spoken up,” said the statement from former head coach Russ Hellickson and former assistant coaches Dave Ruckman, Rex Holman, Ken Chertow, Myron Kharchilava and Kenny Ramsey Jr.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether they, like Jordan, plan to talk with the independent investigators from Seattle-based Perkins Coie who are reviewing the allegations against the now-dead doctor and what, if anything, the university knew about the allegations.
Holman said he hasn’t been interviewed, and he wouldn’t address whether he’ll speak with investigators. A spokeswoman who released the ex-coaches’ statement didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about whether the others plan to talk to investigators.
In an individual statement provided along with the group comment, Hellickson repeated a remark he first released last week that appears to offer a more nuanced view of the allegations: “At no time while Jim Jordan was a coach with me at Ohio State did either of us ignore abuse of our wrestlers.” Hellickson has not returned messages left by The Associated Press.
Jordan told Fox News Friday night that “conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse.”
He said no one ever reported abuse to him, and if they had, “I would have dealt with it.”
Andy Geiger, a former Ohio State athletic director, said Monday he doesn’t recall any complaints during his tenure about a team doctor’s alleged sexual misconduct with athletes. Geiger told the AP in a phone interview he does recall some concerns about voyeurism in the showers at the university’s Larkins Hall but nothing specifically involving the doctor.
Geiger, 79, who now lives near Seattle, also said he doesn’t remember being told about Strauss’ alleged abuse but it could have happened. Geiger said he doesn’t remember Strauss well.
Support for Jordan flowed in from Capitol Hill as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the congressman “absolutely would have acted” had he known about the alleged abuse.
Earlier Monday, GOP Whip Steve Scalise backed Jordan, as did key conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus. McCarthy, Scalise and Jordan are all eyeing House leadership runs.
Ohio State has said the allegations raised so far involve men from 14 sports as well as Strauss’ work for student health services and at his off-campus medical clinic.
Strauss died in 2005, and it was ruled a suicide.
His family was shocked to learn of the allegations from news reports and is cooperating with the school’s independent investigation, according to a family statement over the weekend.
Associated Press Writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus contributed to this report. Freking reported from Washington. Follow the reporters on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 and https://twitter.com/APKFreking .
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Today, in a 97-2 vote, the Senate sent an overwhelming message to President Trump to stand by our NATO allies and against Putin!
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Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
by Kary Love
Heinrich Himmler’s daughter, Gudrun Bruz, died May 24, 2018. That’s right, Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man and architect of the concentration camps and holocaust death machine, head of the SS and Gestapo (and former chicken farmer), that Heinrich Himmler, his daughter died. Ms. Bruz remained a good Nazi to the end of her days. She spent her post-WWII life working to help Nazis “recover” after World War II, surely a suitable charity for her, and for a brief time got a job working for West Germany “military intelligence,” which may give you some insight into the type of people who like government spy jobs.
Today we all know Hitler was bad not only because he authorized and enabled the Holocaust but also because he was the author of the despicable concept of “Total War.” Yes, when it looked like Germany was sure to be defeated, Hitler ordered the children to train and march to the front lines because, in Hitler’s view, it was better for the kids to be dead then not to be Nazi.
This idea of Total War is rejected by most of the civilized human race. Civilized nations agree the military is justified because its’ mission is to defend civilization, to defend the future, and most of all to defend children from death, because without children there is no human future. But is the idea of Total War justifiable under any theory of the law of war or even a philosophy of war? I guess it depends on where you see war in the equation. If your view is war is a necessary evil to defend civilization and protect the future by preserving the young, then you are going to reject the idea of Total War. If, however you see war as a positive undertaking, “a heroic effort,” or somehow good because it “makes a man” out of a formerly soft, indecisive or confused human being and victory is the only acceptable outcome, then Total War may be justifiable. Hitler, Himmler and his daughter apparently agreed. In their defense, their Total War did not imperil all of humanity, just Germany.
To me it seems futile to build a civilization, to nurture and educate the young, only to kill them all before they can rightfully assume the mantle of adulthood, reproduce and build a better tomorrow. Personally, I see no rational basis for Total War only the primitive, bestial urge to destruction usually associated with rabid animals or the suicidally insane. In either case, not wise.
Fast forward from Hitler to: “Better dead than red.” Remember that? Remember when America’s national slogan was it’s better to be dead than red? During the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, America apparently believed it was better to end civilization than to be a commie. Being declared a “Designated Nonsurvivor” by the US government war planners, I reserved judgment.
Science now shows that about 100 of our existing nuclear warheads could probably kill most of the human race. For example, US Trident II missiles are carried by 14 US Ohio and four British Vanguard-class submarines, with 24 missiles on each Ohio class and 16 missiles on each Vanguard class, with each missile containing 8 independently targetable warheads. Thus, a single Ohio class Trident represents 192 thermonuclear detonations (approximately 1,000 times more powerful than Hiroshima, each). A single Trident sub could arguably launch the end of civilization. These calculations do not include America’s land-based ICBMs, nor our bomber, aircraft carrier, howitzer-based nor the whole gamut of every weapon system you can think of that has been “nuclearized” by the US.
Despite the ability to destroy civilization several times over with our existing nukes, America is embarking on an expenditure of $1.7 trillion to “make more and more usable” nuclear weapons. The US Senate just approved an $82 billion increase for the Pentagon that alone exceeds the entire annual defense budget of Russia. We do not even have a realistic nuclear enemy anymore (excepting perhaps our suicidal selves). But, the appetite for the badges and incidents of Total War seems to be insatiable in the United States.
Once we were content to call America’s nuclear policy MAD, (Mutual Assured Destruction) indicating we all knew our nuclear policy and plans were insane. Now, we are beyond insanity, we’re in a frenzy of planning our own suicide because our new nukes cannot be used without suicidal results, wiping out America along with our enemies. Blowback in extremis! Yes, we have gone beyond insanity to abomination. The continuing planning, preparing for suicide of our nation along with murdering all others is a sacrilege against god’s creation of which, we tell our children, we must be good stewards. Even if one is not a believer, evolution supports the logic of defending life not death.
These are the issues that confront Americans. America’s moral standing, not only in the world among civilized humanity, but before the judge of universe, is in peril. Gudrun Bruz may have stayed a loyal Nazi, and daughter, and Total Warrior, to the end. But, I wonder, did she suffer any uncertainty as she contemplated her appearance before the throne of judgment? How did she plead her case before the judge of the universe in an effort to justify a Total War threatening creation itself? How, I ask, can we?
Kary Love is a Michigan attorney who has defended nuclear resisters, including some desperado nuns, in court for decades and will on occasion use blunt force satire or actual legal arguments to make a point.