U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan met this week with a Perkins Coie attorney hired by Ohio State University to investigate allegations that a team doctor sexually abused wrestlers there decades ago when he was on the coaching staff, the Republican lawmaker said July 18.
Two proposed class action lawsuits by former wrestlers against the university allege that school officials must have been aware of the abuse in the 1980s and 90s and never reported it.
One complaint quotes several former wrestlers who spoke out publicly, asserting that Jordan “was also aware” of the alleged abuse by Dr. Richard Strauss but that “he also concealed it.”
Jordan, a conservative Ohio Republican viewed by some as a potential U.S. House speaker, told Cleveland’s “The Answer” radio that he told the Perkins Coie lawyer the same thing he’s said publicly.
“No one reported anything to us. Had we known, we’d have dealt with it. But nobody did,” Jordan said, noting that a number of former coaches and former student athletes have now come forward saying the same thing.
Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at the university, said the lawsuits will “work their way through the courts” and that if anyone was harmed, “they deserve justice.”
He said Perkins Coie handled his interview the “proper way.”
The firm’s investigation is being led by partners Caryn Trombino and Markus Funk, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago. Trombino declined to comment for this story. Funk did not return a request for comment.
Despite the firm’s past work conducting investigations, the Ohio State probe has taken on an unlikely political significance following the accusations against Jordan.
Perkins Coie was previously singled out by far-right wing news outlets for representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the research and publication of the now-infamous Steele Dossier, an explosive document that alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race.
But the law firm isn’t tied to one political party. Two of its partners recently were nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as federal judges.
According to a number of its current critics, Perkins Coie’s connection with the Democratic Party are a clear indication that the investigation of Jordan is politically motivated.
“I think there are people that have some loose affiliation with the deep state that are out to get [him],” U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla, said on Fox News last week.
Perkins Coie, which late last year launched a workplace harassment task force, was previously hired by Uber to investigate widespread allegations of misconduct at that company.
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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Casey Sullivan at cSullivan@bloomberglaw.com