Stanford employee arrested for allegedly lying about on-campus sexual assault

Stanford employee arrested for allegedly lying about on-campus sexual assault

  • US News
  • March 15, 2023
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A 25-year-old woman was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly lying about being sexually assaulted while working at Stanford University, prosecutors said.

The woman later admitted to prosecutors that she made the false claims because she was angry at a colleague.

Jennifer Gries of Santa Clara claimed she was raped twice while working at Stanford and told investigators that her attacker was a 6-foot man in his 20s and black, according to Santa Clara County prosecutors.

Gries was charged with perjury and making false statements, a misdemeanor, according to prosecutors.

Dist. atty Jeff Rosen called the crime “rare and deeply disturbing”.

“Our hearts go out to those wrongly accused,” Rosen said in a written statement. “Our hearts go out to the students who had to look over their shoulders on the way to class. Our hearts go out to legitimate victims of sexual assault who are questioning whether they are believed.”

Both incidents sparked campus-wide alerts to students and staff about a possible serial rapist on campus.

In August, Gries told a nurse at Valley Medical Center that she was approached by a man as she was walking to her car. The man pushed her to the ground in a toilet and raped her, according to an investigator’s report that accompanied the indictment.

Gries agreed to be tested at the hospital for male DNA left behind by the attacker and the samples were placed in sexual assault forensic evidence.

In October, Gries claimed she was raped again while working in a university front office and forced into a basement closet. She described the same attacker to a nurse at Stanford Hospital.

Each time, Gries declined to speak to law enforcement. When a detective with the Stanford Department of Public Safety attempted to question her, Gries refused to provide further details, saying only that she knew the person who raped her, the report said.

Gries was surprised that a community alert was sent to the campus about her initial attack, an investigator’s report said. She continued to question the detective about how the rapes would be investigated and what would be done with the forensic sexual assault evidence, the report said. She also asked if there were any witnesses, prosecutors said.

On two separate occasions, Gries signed an application for crime victim benefits with the California Victim Compensation Board, according to authorities.

Forensic investigators rushed to examine Gries’ evidence, but no male DNA was detected in the samples.

Investigators learned that in March 2022 Gries had filed a sexual harassment complaint against a colleague who matched the description of the person she said had assaulted her. The work location of this male colleague matched the areas where she claimed she was assaulted, investigators said.

The work complaint turned out to be unproven and Gries was transferred to another area. However, Gries told a friend who also worked at the university that investigators say she was romantically involved with the man she had filed a complaint against. Gries claimed the man sexually assaulted her and that she became pregnant with his twins, which investigators didn’t believe was true, prosecutors said.

In text messages with her friend, Gries said she was upset with the man, writing, according to the indictment documents: “I need to start standing up for myself…. I’m so annoyed… I have a plan. That way he’s in his pants for several days.”

When a detective met with Gries in November, she became nervous after the detective asked whether the man named in the work-related complaint could be ruled out as a suspect in the two sexual assaults, investigators said.

In January, Gries admitted to a prosecutor’s investigator that she lied about the sexual assault, prosecutors said. She then wrote an apology letter to the man named in her work-related complaint and the target of her false reports of sexual assault, according to investigators.

The university said it spent more than $300,000 during its investigation and hired additional campus security guards. Hundreds of students demonstrated on campus after Gries’ second rape complaint, calling on the university to do more to address the problem.

The man who was the target of Gries’ false claims was questioned by investigators and said the work-related complaint, which accused him of sexual assault, scarred him. At the time, he was nursing his ailing mother, who later died, investigators said.

He denied sexually assaulting Gries and provided investigators with an alibi, investigators said in their report.

He also agreed to a mouth swab for a DNA sample. He was emotional and teary-eyed, according to investigators, explaining how the whole episode was emotionally and physically traumatic.

He told investigators: “This is disgusting. I don’t feel human. I don’t feel human at all.”

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