Jim Jordan has put himself into an invidious position. He denied any knowledge of the sexual abuse allegations by Dr Strauss. In the past, his denial seemed to keep the issue at bay. He did not remember the past the same way as others. Yet, the Michigan State scandal changed everything. After Dr Nasser trial and sentence showed the scale of abuse at Michigan State, Dr Strauss’s victims began to speak up. Once the school was contacted, it began to investigate.
Jordan must deny the claim because the alternative is politically, morally, and personally unpalatable.
If he had knowledge and failed to act, he is a moral coward who put his political ambitious before doing the right thing. He admits to being a less talented Edward Kennedy.
The only way he can explain why he did nothing is that he did not know. However, his defence is starting to crumble.
As more claims emerge to corroborate the original claim, it becomes harder to maintain his ignorance. The attacks on his accusers, the Dr Strauss’s victims, cannot save him.
For the public, his denials might work because there is no evidence beyond hearsay. Jordan benefits from being presumed innocent. However, his gamble that there is no evidence to support his accusers or to undermine his claims, is slipping.
As the Perkins Coie investigation continues, it is only a matter of time before contemporaneous accounts or official records emerges to cast doubt on his claim. If the investigators find an email, a letter, a memo, a statement in a grievance or a legal deposition, or even a diary entry, then Jordan’s defence disappears.
He must either continue to deny he knew anything or he must admit he knew and explain his failure to act. The former will only make him appear delusional. The Joe Paterno defence. Who can remember what they said or did 30 years ago? All politicians have a faulty memory when it suits. The latter is politically catastrophic. Even trying to finesses this by saying “There were rumours, but that is different from a formal allegation”, only makes it worse.
The failure to act is politically fatal. Even apologizing for it confirms his failure. Whether or not there was a formal allegation or a rumour, he was in a position of trust and authority. He failed to act, to do the right thing when he had the power to do it. Who can trust him to do the right thing? He did not challenge the powerful. He was craven when he should have been courageous. His failure to act enabled the abuse. He chose wilful ignorance.
No matter what happens, his character is defined. Jordan’s ambition, character, and cravenness have sealed his fate. He cannot say it isn’t deserved because there is no one else to blame but himself.