(CNN) — Amid serious accusations that Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan turned a blind eye to sexual abuse while he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, a request was filed Monday with the Office of Congressional Ethics to launch a preliminary investigation into Jordan’s denials that he was unaware of abuse.
“This is a very serious matter that directly reflects on the integrity of the House of Representatives as an institution and on the credibility of its Members,” states the request filed by Norm Eisen, President Barack Obama’s ethics czar, and Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 a nonprofit watchdog group.
“If it is determined that Rep. Jordan is lying to cover up his failure to protect student wrestlers under his supervision from sexual abuses, the House must hold Rep. Jordan accountable for his lies.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics would next need to make a referral to the House Ethics Committee to formally take up the matter.
Jordan has repeatedly denied that he knew about the alleged abuse.
“Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than people coming up and talking about abuse,” Jordan said in an interview Friday evening with Fox News. “No one ever reported any abuse to me. If they had, I would have dealt with it what bothers me the most guys saying these things I know they know the truth. I know they do.”
Jordan’s office declined to comment on the call for an investigation Monday.
The filing will likely increase pressure on the congressman as lawmakers are slowly returning to Washington this week after a week-long recess for Independence Day. Jordan is back at work on Capitol Hill this week, and the House of Representatives formally reconvenes Tuesday.
Several accusers have come forward over the past week saying they were sexually assaulted by Dr. Richard Strauss, a former OSU doctor who died in 2005, under the guise of medical examination. One former Ohio State University wrestler told CNN — speaking on the condition of anonymity — that he and his fellow wrestlers would speak openly about how Strauss would shower with the athletes, and how other athletes would comment on how Strauss would always “check for hernias,” a reference to Strauss examining their genitals.
Jordan, a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is among the high-profile House Republicans considering a run to replace Speaker Paul Ryan when he’s expected to step down at the end of his term.