- One accuser, Mike DiSabato, is also being accused of bullying the widow of a Marine over a memorial fund set up in her husband’s name.
- DiSabato is also facing a defamation lawsuit.
- The other accuser, Dunyasha Yetts, served prison time for a $1.8 million fraud scheme
Two former Ohio State University wrestlers accusing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan of ignoring sexual misconduct by a university physician more than two decades ago have a history of failed business dealings, lawsuits, harassment allegations, and in the case of one accuser, an 18 month prison sentence for fraud.
One of the former wrestlers, Mike DiSabato, is also being accused by the widow of a Marine who was killed in combat in Iraq of intimidating and bullying her over a memorial fund set up in her husband’s name.
“I question the intent, the authenticity, the verity, that Mike DiSabato shares in any of his words or actions,” Karen Mendoza, the wife of Ray Mendoza — a former teammate of DiSabato’s who was killed in 2005 — said in a statement.
NBC News published an article on Tuesday, quoting DiSabato and Dunyasha Yetts, another former OSU wrestler, claiming that when Jordan worked as assistant wrestling coach at OSU, he ignored sexual abuse carried out by a university physician named Richard Strauss.
Jordan, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion, denied in April that he knew about Strauss’s alleged activities. But Yetts told NBC News that Jordan was either a “liar” or taking part in a cover-up of the abuse. DiSabato called Jordan a “coward.”
Jordan, a leading House conservative, has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that he was never told of sexual abuse against athletes during his stint at OSU, which stretched from 1986 to 1994. He said he would have taken action had he known about any abuse by Strauss, who killed himself in 2005.
Jordan is also questioning the timing of the story. The Republican is considered a potential replacement to House Speaker Paul Ryan. He is also among a handful of Republicans leading a push against the FBI and the Department of Justice for answers about the agencies’ handling of the investigation into the Trump campaign.
“Look, the timing makes you wonder,” Jordan told reporters at a July 4 event in Ohio. “All I know is, it’s not true.”
“It’s interesting that the timing is what it is, in light of things that are going on in Washington,” he continued.
The initial reports based on DiSabato and Yetts’ claims regarding Jordan ignores a large body of evidence that raises questions about the two former wrestlers’ motives.
NBC did note that Yetts served time in prison for a $1.8 million fraud scheme.
Yetts’ biggest victim was former NFL star Antoine Winfield, who was bilked out of $1.3 million. Yetts convinced Winfield to invest his NFL signing bonus with Yetts’ firm, World Wide Sports. As part of the scam, Yetts provided Winfield with false documents claiming to show his investments. Yetts was instead spending money on country club memberships, cars, student loans, and credit card payments.
NBC News did not report that Yetts filed a lawsuit in May against U.S. Well Service, a fracking company, claiming that he faced discrimination and sexual harassment. Yetts claims that one of his supervisors at the company made sexual remarks toward him and sent him sexually suggestive text messages. He also claimed that he was overlooked for a supervisor position because he is black.
For his part, DiSabato has been involved in several lawsuits, including one against OSU. He was also recently sued for defamation and libel.
Police records reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation show that DiSabato was arrested on Feb. 1 on charges of telecommunications threats against Bret Adams, a sports agent who represents Chris Spielman, a former NFL star who played football at OSU.
In April, Adams filed a defamation lawsuit against DiSabato claiming that the former wrestler falsely told business associates that Adams was racist and sexist.
Additionally, Mendoza, the widow of the Iraq War veteran, said DiSabato approached her after her husband’s 2005 death to set up a memorial fund in his honor, but that ultimately led to a cease and desist order.
In a phone interview with TheDCNF, Mendoza said she agreed to allow DiSabato to use her husband’s name to raise money to help Ohio-based athletes, Olympic hopefuls and the families of fallen soldiers.
Instead of raising money for athletes and fallen soldiers’ families, Mendoza says that DiSabato used the funds to finance a mixed martial arts venture he had founded. Mendoza also later found that DiSabato failed to register the charity with Ohio’s secretary of state.
Mendoza was eventually forced to issue a cease and desist order against DiSabato for misrepresenting his fundraising efforts. She said that when she began asking DiSabato about the fund, he dismissed her inquiries and said that she had no right to the information she requested.
“As a military widow, I was bullied by a vindictive and manipulative Mike DiSabato,” Mendoza told TheDCNF, adding that DiSabato’s behavior toward her could best be described as “predatory.”
Mendoza says she believes that DiSabato has “highjacked” Jordan’s political position to settle personal and professional vendettas against OSU.
DiSabato sued OSU in 2008 claiming the wrongful termination of a sports merchandising deal he had with the university.
DiSabato did not respond to an email request seeking an interview.
Jordan is disputing another allegation made in the NBC News article, this one regarding a claim made by a lawyer for OSU about attempts to contact the Republican to discuss the Strauss allegations.
Kathleen Trafford of the firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur said that attorneys with Perkins Coie, the law firm investigating the Strauss allegations on behalf of OSU, “had previously contacted Rep. Jordan’s office by email and phone to request that he participate in an interview.”
“To date, Rep. Jordan has not responded to those requests,” Trafford told NBC News. “The investigative team is continuing its efforts to schedule an interview with Rep. Jordan.”
But emails obtained by TheDCNF show that the inquires from Perkins Coie partner Markus Funk were sent to the inactive email address Jim.Jordan@mail.house.gov.
Funk sent emails on May 14 and May 24 attempting to speak with Jordan.
Trafford did not respond to TheDCNF’s email seeking comment.
Jordan is also receiving support from Russ Hellickson, who was OSU’s head wrestling coach when Jordan served as an assistant.
Hellickson said in a statement issued through Jordan’s congressional office that neither he nor Jordan ignored sexual abuse of OSU wrestlers.
“Neither Jim nor I would sidestep or avoid challenges for our wrestlers just because the circumstances were painful or uncomfortable — in fact, those are the kind of circumstances that motivated Jim the most,” reads the statement.
“At no time while Jim Jordan was a coach with me at Ohio State did either of us ignore abuse of our wrestlers. That is not the kind of man Jim is, and it is not the kind of coach that I was,” said Hellickson, who called Jordan “the most honorable man I have ever known.”
TheDCNF was unable to reach Hellickson prior to publication of this article. Yetts could not be reached for comment.